Exercise could reduce your bowel cancer risk

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Scientists from Newcastle University found exercise could reduce bowel cancer risk in humans.

They found that physical activity causes the cancer-fighting protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), to be released into the bloodstream which helps repair the DNA of damaged cells.

The research is published in the International Journal of Cancer and was conducted by Dr. Sam Orange et al.

Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk as the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it.

In the study, the team recruited 16 men aged 50–80, all of whom had lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer, such as being overweight or obese and not physically active.

After providing an initial blood sample, the participants cycled on indoor bikes for a total of 30-minutes at a moderate intensity and a second blood sample was taken as soon as they finished pedaling.

As a control measure, on a separate day, scientists took further blood samples before and after the participants had rested.

Tests were carried out to see if exercise altered the concentration of cancer-fighting proteins in the blood compared to resting samples and it was found that there was an increase in IL-6 protein.

The team found when exercise is repeated multiple times each week over an extended period, cancer-fighting substances—such as IL-6—released into the bloodstream have the opportunity to interact with abnormal cells, repairing their DNA and reducing growth into cancer.

Scientists added the blood samples to bowel cancer cells in a lab and monitored cell growth over 48 hours.

They identified that blood samples collected straight after exercise slowed the growth of the cancer cells compared with those collected at rest.

Furthermore, as well as reducing cancer growth, the exercise blood samples reduced the extent of DNA damage, suggesting that physical activity can repair cells to create a genetically stable cell type.

These findings reveal a newly identified mechanism underlying how physical activity reduces bowel cancer risk that is not dependent on weight loss.

Understanding these mechanisms better could help develop more precise exercise guidelines for cancer prevention. It could also help develop drug treatments that mimic some of the health benefits of exercise.

The team says physical activity of any type, and any duration, can improve health and reduce bowel cancer risk but more is always better.

People who are sedentary should begin by moving more and look to build physical activity into their daily routines.

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If you care about bowel health, please read studies that this diet may reduce inflammation by boosting gut health, and this common food may increase risk of dangerous bowel diseases.

For more information about bowel diseases, please see recent studies that statins may protect your gut health from obesity, and results showing why some people more likely to have bowel diseases.

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