Men in Good Physical Shape Had Lower Rates of 9 Types of Cancer

2 min read

Aug. 16, 2023 -- It’s already commonly understood that physical exercise is good for health. A new study of more than 1 million young men in Sweden has found connections between being in good physical shape and having a much lower risk of developing cancer.

The research showed that men who had high cardiorespiratory fitness as young adults had a lower risk of getting nine types of cancer later in life These included cancers in the head, neck, lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system.

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Cardiorespiratory fitness is a measure of how well a person’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems supply oxygen to the muscles, NBC News wrote.

Researchers followed the Swedish men an average of 33 years, beginning when they took a military fitness test using a stationary bike. They then compared rates of cancer among those men to the fitness levels recorded during the military tests.

“They found that the people with high fitness levels had a 19% lower risk of head and neck cancer and a 20% lower risk of kidney cancer compared to the low-fitness group,” NBC reported. “The risk of lung cancer, meanwhile, was 42% lower for the fittest participants, though that was explained mainly by people’s smoking habits.”

The odds against developing cancer continued to get better the higher participants’ fitness levels rose, said the lead author of the study, Aron Onerup, MD, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The men who were more fit had a higher risk of developing melanoma and prostate cancer. Onerup said that’s probably because active men tend to get more sun exposure and more frequent screenings for prostate cancer.