Small Amounts of Vigorous Exercise Linked to Reduced Risk for Cancer

Four to five minutes of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity linked to decrease in total, physical activity-related cancers
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

FRIDAY, July 28, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Small amounts of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA) are associated with a reduced risk for incident total cancer and PA-related cancer, according to a study published online July 27 in JAMA Oncology.

Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., from the University of Sydney, and colleagues examined the dose-response association of device-measured daily VILPA of up to one and two minutes with incident cancer in a prospective cohort analysis of 22,398 self-reported nonexercising adults from the U.K. Biobank. The incidence of total cancer and PA-related cancer (a composite of 13 cancer sites associated with low PA levels) was assessed.

The researchers found that 2,356 total incident cancer events occurred, 1,084 owing to PA-related cancer, during a mean follow-up of 6.7 years. Overall, 92.3 percent of VILPA was accrued in bouts of up to one minute. Daily VILPA was associated with outcomes in a near-linear manner; steeper dose-response curves were seen for PA-related cancer than total cancer. The median daily VILPA duration of bouts up to one minute (4.5 minutes per day) compared with no VILPA was associated with hazard ratios of 0.80 and 0.69 for total cancer and PA-related cancer, respectively. Similar findings were seen for VILPA bouts of up to two minutes.

"As few as four to five minutes of VILPA daily was associated with a substantially lower cancer risk," the authors write. "Long-term trials with cancer-related biomarker outcomes and well-designed cohort studies with wearable devices should further explore the potential of VILPA as a cancer prevention intervention for nonexercising individuals and for those who find structured exercise unappealing."

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