Dr. Bettag Shares Information about the Impact of Leisure-time Physical Activity on Cancer Mortality!

Dr. Bettag Shares Information about the Impact of Leisure-time Physical Activity on Cancer Mortality!

Last month Dr. Bettag forwarded an article titled “Amount and Intensity of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Lower Cancer Risk” that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: An American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal. Of course, the title and topic excited me far more than the prospect of attempting to understand and accurately interpret a medical article written for oncology healthcare providers. For those of you up to that challenge... you can read the paper here:


Rather sheepishly, I asked if Dr. Bettag would be so kind as to provide a brief summary of the article and, of course, he graciously agreed!


There have been a multitude of papers over the last several years, specifically looking at leisure-time physical activity. One from the Journal of Clinical Oncology from March 1, 2020, looks specifically at people who had different degrees of activity and the risk of cancer. This looked at a group of over 750,000 people, followed for ten years. In that group, there were 50,000 cancers that occurred. Those who were more active had a statistically significant lower risk of 7 out of 15 different types of cancer including colon cancer (8% to 14% lower risk in men), breast cancer (6% to 10% lower risk), endometrial cancer (10% to 18% lower risk), kidney cancer (11% to 17% lower risk), myeloma (14% to 19% lower risk), liver cancer (18% to 27% lower risk), and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (11% to 18% in women).

There are a multitude of articles in regards to this very topic. There is an article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine that looked specifically at 2,650 men from Eastern Finland with no history of cancer and they looked at their leisure-time physical activity. The study concluded that the mean intensity of leisure-time physical activity is inversely associated with the risk of premature deaths from cancer in men. There are three separate articles that looked at the risk of cancer recurrence in women after they have completed therapy, and the amount of physical activity they have done, and each and every one of them showed a lower recurrence rate in the women that exercised than those that did not.

Summing all of this up, there is clearly a trend. We know that exercise will decrease cardiovascular mortality and now there is significant information that it can have an impact on cancer mortality as well.

Interestingly, as an aside, there are some articles that have shown that exercise can actually help ameliorate or decrease risk of depression as well. Ignoring all of the above, exercise has been shown to give us strength, stamina, and endurance to get through our days and we have more of ourselves left to give to others.

Note from Tim: Special thanks to Dr. Bettag for sharing this information and his advice on leisure-time physical activity. As you may suspect, I have my own “Two CENTS Worth” to share on the topic. 😊

First, I will point out that the abstract conclusion states, “Health care providers, fitness professionals, and public health practitioners should encourage adults to adopt and maintain physical activity at recommended levels to lower the risks of multiple cancers.” And to that I think it is even more important that each of us must accept the personal responsibility for our own physical health and well-being by responding affirmatively to that encouragement!

Second, to be honest, it is that last statement of Dr. Bettag’s (“exercise has been shown to give us strength, and endurance to get through our days and we have more of ourselves left to give to others.”) that most excites me! You see, as much as I enjoy being physically active, I’m not sure what I enjoy most – the activity itself or the countless benefits that come from being active!?! If the evidence suggested that exercise had no positive impact on longevity I would certainly continue to be active not only because I enjoy it but because an active lifestyle simply allows me to get so much more out of every single moment and every other activity of every single day! In other words, even if I wouldn’t live longer, I will get more life out of the days that I live!

If you are interested in getting more active, living longer and getting more out of each and every day... consider joining us at any of our Survive, Thrive & Be Fit activities. Granted, our calendar of activities has been adversely impacted due to COVID-19... but there are still opportunities to be active with us... please contact Tim to learn more!

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