WEDNESDAY, July 29, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Increased oxygen consumption associated with moderate- to high-intensity exercise appears to reduce the risk of cancer, a new study has found.
The Finnish study included 2,560 men, aged 42 to 61, whose leisure-time physical activity was assessed over one year. None of the men had a history of cancer, according to the report published online July 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
During an average follow-up of 16 years, 181 of the men died from cancer. Those who engaged in moderate- to high-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes a day were 50 percent less likely to develop cancer compared with the other men.
The researchers found that an increase of 1.2 metabolic units (oxygen consumption) was related to a decreased risk of cancer death, especially in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, after they took into account factors such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and fiber/fat intake.
"The intensity of leisure-time physical activity should be at least moderate so that beneficial effect of physical activity for reducing overall cancer mortality can be achieved," the study authors wrote in a news release.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer prevention.