Exercise to Lower Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2015, colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore, with more than 1000 new cases diagnosed annually and rising. Colorectal cancer is now the third most common cancer worldwide.

The burning question is, “how can we reduce our risk of getting colorectal cancer naturally?”. Studies have shown that engaging in regular physical exercise can lower colorectal cancer risks by as much as 15%. A study involving 1.4 million participants also highlighted that those with the lowest levels of physical activity had higher rates of colorectal cancer.

How Does Exercise Help to Reduce the Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

Obesity and a sedentary (‘couch potato’) lifestyle are risk factors of colorectal cancer. Those who exercise less tend to be more obese and overweight, hence putting them at higher risk of getting this cancer.

Research shows that exercise can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer in the following ways:

  • Improving immune function
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing the time food stays in your colon, therefore reducing intestine exposure to potential carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) in the food we eat
  • Lowering levels of certain hormones, including insulin and oestrogen, that may contribute to the development and growth of cancer
  • Decreasing growth factors associated with the development and growth of cancer


Man and Woman Before and After recommended exercise plans

Recommended Exercise Plans (Intensity & Duration)

The type of exercise, intensity, and duration is still the subject of intense research. Remember to always consult your doctor before you start any exercise plan. This will vary from person to person, depending on your age and overall physical health. As with any exercise plan, you should always start slow and increase the intensity when the body has built up endurance.

Generally, at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week is a good start. Good exercises to try are those which can help you work up a good sweat, such as walking, swimming, running, cycling, skipping, or hiking.

Our doctor personally prefers the outdoors to any gym, for a good dose of fresh air and to enjoy the scenery!

How Do Exercises Help Colorectal Cancer Survivors After Treatment?

Research has also shown that regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of cancer relapse by as much as 50%. Even colorectal cancer survivors who have undergone chemotherapy or radiotherapy can decrease their risk of relapse by doing moderate walking regularly, according to several case studies.

As such, consistent physical workouts adjusted to your age and physical health, is a good way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer recurrence, in a natural way.

Stay healthy and have fun doing it!

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