Exercise: A Powerful Tool to Create Cancer-Fighting Cells
Exercise is not beneficial only to our cardiovascular system and our figure. Richard Béliveau, a renowned researcher who focuses on the various factors that contribute to cancer prevention, states that it is also a “universal remedy” thanks to its multiple health benefits.
Shortly before the beginning of the summer, I shared on my Facebook page an article1 from Dr. Béliveau that had been published in the Journal de Montréal titled “Bougez pour sauver votre vie”. Allow me to point out the main ideas that deserve a little more attention. This article shows yet again the powerful cancer-fighting effects of exercising, especially high-intensity exercises. Indeed, a recent study2 has shown that adrenalin and interleukin-6, two molecules secreted by the body during physical activity, contribute to the elimination of cancerous cells by the immune system. Exercise causes a change in the tissues of the human body that inhibits tumour progression. These positive effects are increased when performing high-intensity activities such as jogging, but any type of physical activity is beneficial, even a simple walk!
In addition to this study, a great number of studies have shown that in comparison to sedentary individuals, those who exercise regularly reduce their risk of developing several types of cancer as well as many chronic diseases. The risks of recurrence and death after recovering from a cancer are also reduced by exercising regularly.
Percentage of risk reduction for various types of cancer through regular exercise3
Breast cancer – 20% to 30% reduction
Colon cancer – 20% to 30% reduction
Cervical cancer – 20% to 30% reduction
Lung cancer – 20% to 30% reduction
Ovarian cancer – 20% reduction
Prostate cancer – approximately 10% reduction
Source: Adapted from the book Prévenir le cancer : comment réduire les risques
(Béliveau and Gingras).
The risks of developing a cancer that leads to death can also be greatly reduced by following the official recommendations of cancer prevention agencies and organisms4. Following the rules more diligently leads to even lower risks.
Here are 8 rules for cancer prevention (World Cancer Research Fund5):
- Do not smoke.
- Stay fit (body mass index between 22.5 and 25).
- Perform a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Reduce your intake of high-calorie food (e.g., soft drinks and junk food).
- Consume a wide variety of plant food (fruit, vegetables, legumes) and whole grain food.
- Limit your consumption of red meat to about 500 g per week, and cut out cold cuts entirely.
- Limit your daily alcohol consumption to two servings for men, and 1 serving for women.
- Do not expose yourself to the sun for longer than necessary.
Support research on cancer prevention
As you probably already know, our annual “30-minute workout to help out the Fund” event will be held next Sunday, November 6th to raise money for the Richard Béliveau Fund. All Nautilus Plus centres will be open to the general public to enable thousands of people to actively participate in this activity, either by performing a 30-minute cardiovascular workout on any cardio machine they choose, or by taking part in one of the many 30-minute group activities scheduled throughout the day!
Sunday November 6, come to the Île des Sœurs Nautilus Plus centre, and meet Richard Béliveau, who will be hosting a conference on cancer prevention from 1 PM to 2 PM. Registration required.
We look forward to meeting you!
- Béliveau, Richard and Gingras, Denis, 2014: “Prévenir le cancer comment réduire les risques”, Trécarré.
Karine Larose, M.Sc.