Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, with 106,180 new cases of colon cancer and 44,850 new instances of rectal cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
In a study from the University of Utah, scientists found regular physical activity can extend colorectal cancer patients’ lives.
In the study, scientists looked at the impact of exercise on the gut microbiome of cancer patients and reported a positive association.
The gut microbiome is the largest portion of the body’s collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in and on the body.
The researchers found physical activity was also beneficial to obese cancer patients, who typically have a less healthy gut microbiome.
The findings are an important step in understanding how a healthy gut improves colorectal cancer outcomes for patients.
While other scientists have studied the effect of exercise on the microbiome among healthy individuals, this is the first study looking at the outcome in people with cancer.
In the study, the team found that regular physical activity can aid in creating a healthy gut microbiome, while also reducing inflammation.
These findings were reported in patients independent of their body mass index (BMI)—even those classified as severely overweight or obese.
The team says a patient who is active has a more diverse microbiome and lower abundances of colorectal cancer-promoting bacteria, and higher amounts of bacteria that protect against colorectal cancer.
Adults need 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s roughly 20 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging a day.
Huntsman Cancer Institute experts recommend people of average risk for colorectal cancer should start regular screenings at age 45, with either a test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool or a colonoscopy.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.
The study was conducted by Cornelia Ulrich et al and published in the American Journal of Cancer Research.
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