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Cancer risk lowered if women exercise

Wednesday September 29th, 2010

Women who exercise and keep active are less likely to develop womb cancer than couch potatoes, researchers said today.

A study published in the British Journal of Cancer has found that women who do not exercise have a 30 per cent higher risk of developing the disease than those who do.

Researcher Dr Steven Moore, of the US National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, said that physical activity had a protective effect.

“Physical activity is known to reduce risk for breast and colon cancer, and now our study has found that physical activity can reduce risk for womb cancer as well,” he said. “We already knew that maintaining a healthy body weight is an important way to reduce the risk of womb cancer, but our study showed that physical activity has a protective effect of its own.”

In a separate study of 70,000 women they also found that sitting down for longer periods of time was associated with increased risk of the disease.

“Spending less time sitting and more time on your feet may complement exercise as a way of preventing the disease,” said Dr Moore.

“Further research is needed to discover how different types, levels and amounts of physical activity affect a woman’s chance of developing the disease.”

Womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women with more than 7,500 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “This new research provides clear evidence that the more active women are – and the less time they spend sitting down – the less likely they are to develop womb cancer. This may be because exercise and activity reduces levels of the sex hormone oestrogen.

“Overexposure to oestrogen can increase the risk of the disease. Keeping active and doing plenty of exercise as well as spending more time on your feet will help reduce the risk of womb cancer.”

* Senior UK cancer specialists have pledged to improve the organisation of follow-up care for patients following criticisms from one expert.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, says the NHS is "wasteful and ineffective" in the way it seeks to identify the return of disease.

Professor Maher, of University College London, has called for specific services for survivors - and says if they can be taught to look after themselves they could make appointments when they needed checks rather than having to attend routine follow-ups.

The comments seemed to gain backing from the National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards.

He said: "More people are surviving cancer each year and we need to do more to ensure that their quality of life is as good as possible.

"For many of the 1.6 million people living with and beyond cancer in England, we need to improve follow-up care to meet their medical, psychological, social, spiritual, financial and information needs.

"We need to create services that are tailored to meet the needs of the individual, rather than the one size fits all model which has been the traditional pattern of follow-up cancer care."

Tags: Cancer | Fitness | North America | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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