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    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

New Study: Regular Exercise Reduces Cancer Risk in Men

By L.K. Regan

Here's yet another great reason for gay men to exercise regularly: Consistent exercise may significantly improve the risk of surviving cancer, as well as lower the risk of contracting cancer, according to a study published last week in the British Journal of Cancer. The study, conducted over seven years between 1998 and 2004 by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden and the Harvard Medical Center, tracked 40,708 men between the ages of 45 and 79 who were sorted by exercise regimen. The study's promising results: somewhat reduced cancer rates, and significantly reduced cancer deaths, among those who performed moderate exercise at least 30 minutes per day.

The study was conducted using an intensive survey of subjects from two Swedish counties, sorted by activity level. Of the men in the study, 3,714 were diagnosed with cancer in the course of the research. Of those, 1,153 died. In general, 30 minutes per day of exercise was associated with a 5 percent reduction in cancer rates—though researchers felt this result might be attributable to chance. Much larger was the effect of exercise on survival, where both of the most active categories in the study had very significant gains.

Men who exercised at least 30 minutes per day were 33 percent less likely to die of cancer than their inactive counterparts. Within that category, those who exercised 60 to 90 minutes per day had a 16 percent increase in survival over inactive men. Professor Alicja Wolk, who headed up the study, said, 'These results clearly show for the first time, the effect that very simple and basic daily exercise such as walking or cycling has in reducing cancer death risk in middle-age and elderly men….Additionally, this study threw up some really promising data on the role exercise can play in preventing cancer which we would like to explore further in future work."

Because the study measured men's activity level by surveying them about their habits and lifestyles, many types of activity not usually considered exercise—such as gardening and housework—were factored into the researchers' model. "We looked at more moderate exercise such as housework, undertaken over a longer period of time and found that this also reduced men's chances of dying from the disease," said Wolk. No more excuses for not vacuuming!