Exercise lowers bowel cancer risk and tumor growth; Study

By Salma C, Intern Reporter
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A recent study published in the ‘International Journal of Cancer’ by a group of researchers from Newcastle and York St John University has found that exercise can reduce the risk of bowel cancer and slow the growth of tumors.

The study suggests that physical activity causes the release of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cancer-fighting protein, into the bloodstream, helping to repair damaged cell DNA.

This research will shed new light on the significance of moderate action in the fight against life-threatening diseases and help to develop therapies in the future.

Dr. Sam Orange, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Newcastle University, stated that “Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk as to the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it. Our findings support this idea.”

“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,” Mr. Orange added.

In this small-scale study, which is evidence of principle, the research team came to this conclusion from a study conducted on 16 men between the ages of 50 and 80 who had lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer, such as being overweight or obese but were not physically active.

After the initial blood sample was given, participants cycled on indoor bikes for a total of 30 minutes at moderate intensity and took a second blood sample immediately after completing pedaling.

As a control measure, on a particular day, scientists took more blood samples before and after participants rested. Tests were performed to see if there was a change in the concentration of cancer-fighting proteins in the blood after exercise compared to rest-time samples and an increase in IL-6 protein was found.

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