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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2010 December;63(4).591-600

language: English, Italian

Physical activity and cancer

Amodeo G., Camera A., Caimi G.

Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular and Urological Diseases, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy


According to the World Health Organization physical inactivity causes 10-16% of deaths for breast and colorectal cancers. However, in Italy, approximately 41% of the population still remains sedentary. Moreover, physical activity is correlated with a lower risk of development and death for many common kinds of cancer. Moderate and regular exercise reduces metabolic syndrome, obesity, fat mass, and in particular visceral fat, which is active in the carcinogenesis as well as reduces testosterone and estrogens availability. “High activity” occupations are a protective factor against tumor development. Another important factor is timing, that is the life period when physical activity is performed. Physical exercise has a strong effect on breast and colorectal cancer risk reduction. Exercise may be a critical adjuvant therapy in the management of many cancers and it may enhance the therapeutic effects of traditional treatments. After cancer diagnosis, exercise prescription can have very positive effects. There is a strong evidence that regular post-diagnosis exercise could increase survivorship by 50-60% with the strongest evidence currently for breast and colorectal cancers. Many questions, about how, how long and when physical activity should be practiced in order to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and improve life quality, are still unsolved.

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