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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Exercise May Cut Men's Colon Cancer

Possible Benefit Seen in Sedentary Men Who Made Exercise a Habit
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 12, 2006 -- By starting an exercise program, men may slash their risk of colon polyps and colon cancer.

That news comes from researchers including Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, of Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

"Vigorous exercise was helpful for men of any size, as long as they worked out nearly every day," McTiernan says, in a news release.

McTiernan's team studied 102 men and 100 women aged 40-75 years (average age: mid-50s) who had had a colonoscopy within the past three years.

When the study started, participants were healthy but sedentary. They took a treadmill test to gauge their maximum heart rate.

Then the researchers gave half the group heart rate monitors and an exercise prescription:

  • Get an hour of aerobic exercise six days weekly for a year.
  • Workouts should be moderate to vigorous, at 60% to 85% of maximum heart rate.

For comparison, the researchers didn't assign the other participants to exercise.

All participants were asked to not change their diets.

Fudge Factor

The researchers designed the study to see whether participants in the exercise group followed orders.

Those participants wore pedometers that counted every step they took. Every week, they also turned in logs of their at-home workouts. Workouts at study facilities were also logged.

Participants in the exercise group got monthly progress reviews, newsletters, incentives (such as water bottles), and group social events.

"Adherence to the program was excellent overall," judging by the exercise logs, the researchers write.

Those logs show that men averaged slightly more than six hours of weekly workouts, while women averaged nearly five hours of weekly exercise.

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