(HealthDay News) – Men’s middle-aged fitness level may protect against cancer, according to a study presented in advance of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 31–June 4 in Chicago.
Susan G. Lakoski, MD, from University of Vermont in Colchester, and colleagues analyzed data from 17,049 men (mean age, 50 years) participating in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study who completed the medical exam and cardiovascular risk factor assessment. Medicare claims data was used to determine cancer incidence.
The researchers found that, over a median follow-up period of 20–25 years, 2,332 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 276 with colorectal cancer, and 277 with lung cancer. There were 347 cancer-related deaths and 159 men died from cardiovascular disease. The risk of being diagnosed with lung or colorectal cancer was reduced by 68% and 38%, respectively, for men who were the most fit, compared to those who were the least fit, when adjusting for smoking, body mass index, and age. Fitness did not significantly impact prostate cancer risk. The increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease was seen in men with low fitness even if they weren’t obese. For men who developed cancer, there was a lower risk of dying from all the three cancers in those who were more fit at middle age. Even a small, one-metabolic equivalent improvement in fitness made a significant difference in survival, reducing the risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease by 14% and 23%, respectively.
“This finding makes it clear that patients should be advised that they need to achieve a certain fitness level, and not just be told that they need to exercise,” Lakoski said in a statement. “And unlike exercise behavior, which relies on patient self-reporting, fitness can be objectively and accurately measured in a clinical setting.”
One author disclosed financial ties to GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, and Genentech.