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From PBS.  Study?  Where are the numbers?

Study Pinpoints Link Between Fitness and Cancer in Men


Photo courtesy: Flickr user Josiah Mackenzie

There’s new evidence out today that being fit reduces your risk for getting cancer.

The study, released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting, looked at the link between fitness in middle-aged men and the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis later in life.

Doctors focused on the top three cancers in men: prostate, colorectal and lung. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400,000 men were diagnosed with one of these cancers in 2007.

The study tracked 7,000 healthy, 45-year old men. Their fitness was assessed during their regular preventive health exam by putting them on the treadmill. How far — and how well they were able to tolerate increases in the speed and grade of the treadmill — determined how “fit” they were.

Two decades later, when the men were 65, doctors looked at who had developed cancer and compared that to their previous fitness levels. They saw a link — “fit” individuals were less likely to develop cancer, and if they did develop it, they generally had better prognoses.

“That’s what’s really sort of amazing is that there’s really no other population where we have the assessment back in time, when they were in their middle age,” according to Dr. Susan Lakoski, the study’s primary author. “We followed them all the way to past the age of 65 and beyond to track whether or not they’ve developed cancer to see what this relationship was between fitness and cancer risk.”

The study began in 1970 at the Cooper Center Longitudinal Studies in Dallas. The participants were predominantly Caucasian.

Dr. Lakoski focuses on cardiovascular health among cancer patients. She spoke with PBS NewsHour earlier this week.

PBS NewsHour: In a nutshell, what did the study reveal?

Dr. Susan Lakoski, University of Vermont College of Medicine:The study shows that cardiorespiratory fitness predicts cancer risk and prognosis after a cancer diagnosis in men. This is a new finding, because traditionally patients self-report their physical activity. But in our study, we measured it with an objective exercise sonar test.

This is the first study that really addresses the issue of fitness being a prognostic marker of cancer risk in men, and then a marker of prognosis after a cancer diagnosis. We specifically looked at if “fitness,” or the ability to get on a treadmill and go as far as you can, predicted whether or not you’ll develop cancer. And it did predict it. So people who had lower fitness, or went less time on the treadmill, were more at risk for developing cancer later in life.

NewsHour: What’s the difference between physical activity and fitness?

Dr. Susan Lakoski:Physical activity is one Read more Thursday 130516