A latest study linked physical fitness to lowered risk of colorectal or lung cancer and also offered better odds of survival in case of being affected. A first of its kind in terms of diversity and largeness, the study involved an analysis of health data of about 49,143 patients who had undertaken stress tests to determine fitness levels during 1991to 2009. The cohort included a large proportion of women and non-white individuals.
The participants of the study who were in the age group of 40 to 70 years were not affected by cancer when assessed for their fitness levels. They were then categorized into groups based on their stress test assessment figure which was measured in terms of metabolic equivalent of tasks (METs value). Data on cancer incidence was collected by researchers through a median follow-up of about 7.7 years from cancer registry links and for fatalities from National Death Index.
It was ascertained that risk of lung and colorectal cancer development among the fittest individuals (having a 12 and plus METs score) was lowered by 77% and 61% in comparison to the least fit (having a 6 and less METs score).
Required adjustments were made to the results to eliminate impact of other factors on the relationship like race, diabetes, age, sex, body mass index, smoking, use of statin or aspirin while determining the link between fitness and cancer incidence.
Another finding of the study was the relationship of higher cardiorespiratory fitness to lowered death rates of individuals with colorectal and lung cancer during follow up to the extent of 89% and 44% respectively. The findings of the study are significant in view of large incidences of lung and colorectal cancer witnessed in the country. However, due to the inherent design of the study no conclusion could be drawn on the linkage between enhancing fitness to reducing risk and improving survival rates in such cancers.