Short Bursts of Intense Activity Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

Short Bursts of Intense Activity Linked to Lower Cancer Risk

A study published in JAMA Oncology found that short periods of intense, intermittent physical activity are associated with a lower risk of cancer. This type of activity could be particularly beneficial for cancer prevention in individuals who struggle with regular exercise.

The study focused on brief phases of strenuous physical exercise lasting 1 to 2 minutes, like sprinting for a bus or climbing stairs. Researchers examined the relationship between this kind of activity and cancer risk in a large group of non-athletic adults. They gathered data from wearable arm trackers worn by 22,398 participants with an average age of 62 from the UK Biobank. The study followed these individuals for an average of 6.7 years.

Results showed that engaging in intense, intermittent physical activity, even for short periods, was associated with a lower cancer incidence rate. Out of 2356 cancer events, 1084 were related to cancers associated with minimal physical activity. Nearly all intense physical activity (92.3%) occurred in bursts of up to 1 minute.

The study revealed a linear relationship between daily activity duration and cancer risk reduction. For instance, engaging in as little as 3.4 minutes per day of sporadic intense activity lowered the overall cancer risk by 17%. For cancers linked to minimal activity, the risk reduction was 28%. This suggests that even a few minutes of such activity can lower cancer risk, particularly for those with low levels of leisure activity.

The researchers used wrist acceleration trackers to measure physical activity, considering them more reliable than questionnaires. The study adjusted for various factors like age, sex, BMI, education level, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep duration, diet, medication use, and family history of cancer.

It’s noted that further research is needed to determine if these findings apply to cancer patients, as different biologies and hormonal environments may impact the effects of physical activity. Nonetheless, physical activity has positive implications for cancer patients’ quality of life and fitness. The study underscores that any amount of physical activity is better than none.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer or is looking for cancer prevention therapies, contact one of our care coordinators at 604-949-0077.

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