Benefits of Exercise Include Reducing Cancerous Polyps in Bowel

A colon polyp is a growth on the colon (large intestine), and you can have more than one of them. Flat polyps can be smaller and tougher to see, and are often more likely to be cancerous. Polyps are more likely if you eat a lot of fatty foods, smoke, drink alcohol, shun exercise and therefore weigh more than you should. A colonoscopy is typically the test your doctor will use to check for any polyps, and unless there are indications otherwise, you’ll be urged to have this screening at age 50.

According to this latest study, those who did exercise on a regular basis had a 16% less chance of having bowel polyps and were 35% less likely to have large polyps. Known technically as adenomas, polyps are growths found in the bowel that aren’t cancerous themselves, but have the capacity to become cancer if given enough time. This represents only a fraction of polyps but researchers do believe most bowel cancers start with a polyp.

Research experts point out that the work shows a clear association between being regularly active and a lower chance of bowel cancer. And while there are a few likely explanations, it’s not clear why the link exists, only that it does.

Doctors know that exercise is super helpful to the body in many ways, including…

  • Lowers insulin levels and boosts your body’s reaction to hyperinsulinemia

  • Makes the immune system function more effectively

  • Keeps your weight in the healthy range

  • If you exercise outdoors, you also take in beneficial vitamin D

At least 30 minutes of moderate level activity a day – any activity that results in you being slightly short of breath is what you’re after.

In both the United States and United Kingdom, cancer of the bowel is number 3 in the lists of the most common form of cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK most bowel cancers come from polyps, and that one in four of us have at least one by the age of 50, about half have developed them by 70. If you’re worried about your own bowel cancer risk, be sure to get the screenings that your doctor recommends.

Some persistent myths about bowel cancer include…

  • It’s more common in men – in fact, this cancer is just as common in women as in men.
  • It can’t be prevented – it can, and is, when polyps are found (and removed) early.

  • African American men and women are safe – in fact they die at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group.

  • Age plays a part – over 90% of cases are found in people 50 or over.

  • It’s deadly, so why get tested – in fact this form of cancer is highly treatable, and if found early, the 5 year survival rate is a whopping 90%. It’s the delay in testing for cancerous polyps in the bowel that’s truly deadly.

A new report finds that if one of the benefits of exercise is that you’re 33% less likely to have cancerous polyps in the bowel. The work includes 20 earlier studies that examine the relationship between exercise and the growth of large polyps. The researchers believe they’ve produced the highly accurate figures that show low levels of exercise are linked to polyps.

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