The more we find out about the benefits of an active lifestyle, the more it shows us that if we aren’t already working exercise into our daily routines, this is the time to start! Not only does physical activity lead to a longer life, it’s an easy way to reduce your risk of cancer! It almost seems too good to be true, but research has discovered that there are several ways that staying active benefits our body and makes us more resistant to developing cancerous tumours. Here are 5 ways that exercise helps us lower this chance.
Lowers levels of hormones linked to cancer risk
Studies have shown that high levels of certain hormones in our bloodstreams can increase the risk of developing cancer. These hormones are estrogen and growth factors that are produced in higher quantities when our bodies are inactive. As we become more physically active, our bodies produce less of these hormones, reducing their effects on our bodies.
Minimizes insulin levels in the blood
Insulin is a type of hormone that controls the amount of sugar in our bloodstream by moving it into the cells of our body that need it. When we are inactive or have unhealthy diets, insulin production continues, but our body uses it less. This makes it so a large amount of sugar, known as glucose, stays in the bloodstream. When looking at rates of cancer development, scientists saw that high amounts of glucose showed up in the bloodstreams of people who developed breast and colon cancer, while those with lower amounts of blood sugar did not develop these cancers as often. The more we use our bodies, the more our muscles demand glucose, and we produce less insulin to match the lower amount of glucose in our bloodstream.
As discussed in other articles this month, a risk factor for developing many cancers is being obese. Many elements of obesity can increase the risk of cancer, such as high blood sugars, weakened arteries, unbalanced hormone levels, and others. Staying active will offset the effects of obesity as you work to be more healthy overall, and greatly reduce the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with cancer later on.
Improves immune system function
When we stay physically active, we keep our immune system strong. Our blood circulates better, and along with it, our white blood cells and other cells that make up this complex system. As this happens, our immune system is able to respond to abnormal cells and illness more quickly. Researchers believe that a strong immune system can recognize abnormal cells produced by cancer and eradicate them before a tumor even forms. Some cancer cells are able to evade our immune system, but strengthening the system overall lessens these chances.
Helps with digestion
One of the benefits to physical activity that isn’t discussed often is that it helps us digest our food better. With the increased circulation and boosted metabolism, our bodies kick our digestion into high gear so that it can absorb the nutrients from the food we eat more quickly. This minimizes the risk of colorectal cancer by lessening our exposures to any possible carcinogens that are in the food we eat. Though there is heavy regulation about these harmful materials getting used in foods, there are still trace elements of minerals and chemicals present on food that may cause cancer with prolonged exposure. By speeding up our digestion process, physical activity ensures our digestive systems are only exposed to these food-based carcinogens for a short amount of time.