Physical activity can reduce the risks of death and cancer caused by alcohol

Physical activity_swimming

Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can cause many health problems. This includes stroke, high blood pressure, fatty liver, irregular heartbeat, and alcoholic hepatitis. In addition, drinking too much can increase risks of cancers in the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.

Now researchers find that regular physical activity can reduce the health risks caused by alcohol drinking. The finding is newly published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers from University of Montreal, University of Sydney, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and University College London worked together to conduct an analysis of 8 British cohort studies.

The 8 British population-based surveys focused on associations between alcohol drinking and cause-specific death. They included Health Survey for England (1994, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2006) and Scottish Health Survey (1998 and 2003).

About 36,370 men and women aged 40 years and over took the surveys. Among them, 5735 died during the long-term follow-up (on average 10 years). All participants reported their alcohol drinking, health conditions, and physical activity.

Researchers found a direct association between hazardous alcohol drinking and cancer death risk. This means women who drink more than 14 units per week and men who drink more than 21 units per week have high heath risks.

However, for people who took at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, the relation between alcohol intake and cancer death risk was lower or nearly gone.

Researchers suggest that being physical active can reduce the risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other death risks caused by alcohol drinking.

But this does not mean people can drink excessively without worrying about their health. A better living style should combine regular physical activity and moderate (or no) drinking. From a public health angle, physical exercise should be included in interventions of excessive alcohol drinking.

Citation: Perreault K, et al. (2016). Does physical activity moderate the association between alcohol drinking and all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular diseases mortality? A pooled analysis of eight British population cohorts. British Journal of Sports Medicine, bjsports-2016-096194. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096194
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