By Kara Morris
THURSDAY, Nov. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Getting a regular schedule of moderate physical activity can help extend the lives of people with colon cancer, according to a new study.
The results showed that exercise is beneficial even for obese cancer patients, as it reduces inflammation and improves bacterial communities in the gut microbiome.
“Inflammation is the main process that leads to colorectal cancer. We know that BMI is high [body mass index] Study co-author Cornelia Ulrich said she is the executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.
“Obesity is on the verge of becoming the number one cause of cancer in the United States, overtaking smoking. More than 13 cases of cancer are linked to obesity,” Ulrich said in the institute’s press release. “It is important to understand that moderate exercise can help patients with colorectal cancer reduce inflammation, improve their gut health, and live longer — even if they are overweight or obese.”
The researchers found these benefits for patients regardless of their BMI.
The study was conducted as part of the ColoCare Study of newly diagnosed colon cancer patients. Researchers in Germany as well as Utah evaluated stool samples from 179 patients with stages 1 to 4 colon cancer enrolled between October 2010 and March 2018.
They found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with greater diversity in the gut microbiome, which is an indicator of gut health.
The results were published in the American Journal of Cancer Research.
“An active patient has a more diverse microbiome, lower abundances of colorectal cancer-promoting bacteria, and higher amounts of colorectal cancer-protective bacteria,” said co-author Caroline Himbert, a research fellow in Ulrich’s group.
“Our study indicates that no one needs to be an athlete to reap the benefits,” she said in the release. “They can be easy activities. Just staying active is very beneficial.”
The researchers described the findings as an important step in understanding the impact of a healthy gut on colon cancer outcome.
The study cannot prove that exercise will prevent colon cancer. But the researchers said future studies should assess different effect sizes by exercise type, intensity, and body composition.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. More than 106,000 new cases of colon cancer and about 45,000 cases of rectal cancer are found each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on colon cancer.
Source: Huntsman Cancer Institute news release, November 14, 2022