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March 8, 2013 | 3 minute read

Friday Focus: Physical Activity and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Sneakers_dreamstime_14295723As we enter the second week of a month devoted to Colorectal Cancer Awareness, let’s focus on one crucial aspect of prevention about which far too many Americans remain unaware:

Namely, that moving more matters hugely. The evidence is clear: Being physically active is powerfully protective against colorectal cancer.

Unfortunately for the increasingly sedentary American populace, the inverse is also true: Being inactive — as most of us are — makes colorectal cancer more likely.

That urgent message is not being heard, according to the AICR 2013 Cancer Risk Awareness Survey [PDF]. In fact, awareness that the lack of physical activity is a cause of cancer plummeted from a high of 45 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2013, the steepest decline in the history of the survey.

This means that approximately two out of three Americans still don’t know that they can cut their risk for colorectal cancer simply by getting off the couch.

What’s The Link?

Being active provides a wide range of simultaneous cancer-protective benefits, both direct and indirect.


  • It helps regulate the body’s levels of hormones that might otherwise spur cancer growth.
  • It reduces insulin resistance, which is implicated in several cancers.
  • It helps speed potential carcinogens through the gut and out of the body before they can damage the sensitive cells they pass by.


  • Being active helps prevent the buildup of excess body fat, which is important because being overweight is one of the major causes of colorectal cancer.

What’s Stopping You?

Currently, only 3 in10 Americans are active for at least 30 minutes a day — the minimum amount AICR recommends for lowering cancer risk. Why is that?

1. “I’m too busy to exercise.”

We’re talking about moving more, here, and you can do that at any time, according to your schedule. Not time fo a 30-minute walk? Break it up into 3 brisk 10-minute strolls throughout the day. Get up from your desk more often. Step away from the television. Move more, in any way, every day.

2. “I can’t afford a gym membership.”

Got a pair of comfortable shoes? Then you’ve spent all you need to get started. Get up and start walking, and keep walking. It’s as simple as that.

3. “I’m too out-of-shape.”

You’re never too out-of-shape to move more than you’re moving now, and that’s what counts. Something is better than nothing, and if you keep it up, your fitness will improve, and you’ll find yourself able to do more. But don’t worry about that yet. Start where you are.

Next Week: Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day … the link between alcohol and colorectal cancer.



One comment on “Friday Focus: Physical Activity and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

  1. Stephen Knows Cancer on

    Now this should be very helpful in motivating more people to get out there and stay active! Thank you for sharing the post! I really do hope that more people are encouraged to get screened for colorectal cancer this month. I found a new post in honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this month, and I wanted to share it in hopes that this can provide some more information concerning the benefits of these screening tests for anyone who may be interested. This disease remains the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented. It all starts with better education of the risks for colorectal cancer and more awareness of what you can do to protect yourself: http://www.knowcancer.com/blog/colorectal-cancer-awareness-month/


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