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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Exercise reduces risk of colon cancer

But not all doctors informing patients of this simple
preventive approach, study says

(HealthDay News) -- Physical activity can reduce the risk of
colon cancer, but few American adults are aware of this, a new
study shows.

A sedentary lifestyle accounts for as many as 14 percent of all
colon cancer cases in the United States. People who get lots of
exercise have a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk of
developing colon cancer, according to study co-author Elliott
Coups, of the Division of Population Science at the Fox Chase
Cancer Center in Cheltenham, Pa., and colleagues.

But their analysis of survey data from 1,932 adults who
answered questions about colon cancer risk found that only 15
percent said they used physical activity as a way of reducing
their colon cancer risk. The findings were published in the
August issue of Patient Education and Counseling.

Several factors may contribute to this lack of knowledge about
the link between exercise and colon cancer risk.

"Patients may not be learning this information from their
health-care providers and information regarding colon cancer
prevention is not as well publicized as it could be," Coups said
in a new release from the Center for the Advancement of Health.

Doctors may find it easier to tell patients about the general
health benefits of exercise, rather than specifically referring
to colon cancer, even if a patient has a family history of colon
cancer or other risk factors for the disease.

"In the context of busy clinic visits, it is, in some ways,
efficient for patients to be reminded that physical activity is
good for their health in general. Going through each specific
health benefit of physical activity would take considerable
time," said Coups.

Sedentary people can greatly benefit from starting a modest
exercise program, such as gardening or walking two to three
hours a week, according to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor
at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"Sedentary people should first set such moderate, achievable
goals. More benefits could accrue from higher levels and more
intense exercise, such as jogging, running or tennis. To some
extent, more may be better, but it is important to note that a
little is much better than nothing," Giovannucci said in the
news release.

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