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Activity Lowers Adults' Leukemia Risk

woman walking dongIn one of the largest studies of its kind, research now suggests that adults who regularly walk or get any form of physical activity have a lower risk of developing leukemia and cancers that affect the blood and lymph system. The study was published online in the Annals of Oncology.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and blood-related cancers are called hematologic malignancies. There are relatively few cases of these cancers and physical activity prevention research has been inconsistent.  

This study pulled data from approximately 65,300 participants of the large Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study. When the participants entered the study, at ages 50 to 76, they gave information about their physical activity habits over the last ten years. Participants only reported how long they participated in an activity if they did it more than once a week for over one year.

After tracking the participants for an average of 7 years, the study found that those who were the most physically active had a lower risk of all hematologic cancers combined when compared to those who were not active. The more activity people did during the week, the lower their risk.

When the researchers separated the hematologic cancers by type, they saw the greatest risk reduction – over 50 percent – among those who were regularly active at moderate to high intensity for the development of myeloid neoplasms, cancers that develop inside the bone marrow.

Exactly how physical activity may reduce the risk of hematologic cancers is unknown, note the authors.


Source: Walter RB, Buckley SA, White E. “Regular recreational physical activity and risk of hematologic malignancies: results from the prospective VITamins And lifestyle (VITAL) study.” Ann Oncol. 2012 Dec 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Published on January 9, 2013

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