Physical Activity and Cancer Risk

Research shows that getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day lowers cancer risk.

Being active reduces risk for endometrial, breast (postmenopausal) and colorectal cancers.

Physical activity helps to lower cancer risk in several ways

  • Regular activity helps keep hormone levels healthy; some hormones can increase cancer risk if their levels get too high.
  • Being active may strengthen the immune system.
  • Our digestive system benefits from regular exercise, possibly because it helps speed potentially harmful substance through the intestinal tract.
  • Staying physically active can help you avoid weight gain, and that's important because too much body fat increases risk for many types of cancer.

Limiting how much time you sit is important for reducing cancer risk

  • High amounts of time spent sitting link to overweight and obesity, so breaking up sitting and other sedentary behaviors may help with weight management.
  • Some research suggests moving throughout the day, in addition to at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, may also help reduce cancer risk.
  • Emerging evidence links more sitting time to larger waist size, and high blood sugar and insulin, markers for a metabolic environment that may promote several types of cancer.