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Even a Little Exercise May Protect Against Colon Polyps
Date:5/9/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Even a little exercise may ward off polyps in the colon, which are sometimes precursors to cancer.

In fact, just an hour a week of low-intensity exercise -- even such seemingly trivial activities as walking on the street or climbing stairs -- reduced risk, especially among individuals who are obese or overweight, according to new research slated to be presented Sunday at Digestive Disease Week in Chicago.

The New York City researchers noted that benefits were seen across a variety of ethnic groups and weight ranges.

The findings are not really new, just confirmatory of what doctors have been urging all along: get out and move, not just to prevent polyps but to prevent a whole host of diseases.

"Exercise is a good thing," said Dr. David Weinberg, chairman of medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "It matters in sick people and black people and skinny people and overweight people."

Although many previous studies have been done on this subject, not many looked at the effect of exercise in a multi-ethnic group.

"African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by colon cancer. Even within our own sample, blacks had the highest prevalence of polyps and adenomas [benign tumors that can become cancerous]," said study author Dr. Nelson Sanchez, attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. "Overweight and obese people are another segment of the population that is at increased risk of colon cancer and colon polyps."

This study included almost 1,000 patients of different ethnic and racial groups: 56.8 were Hispanic, 20.6 percent were Asian, 15.2 percent were black and 7 percent were white. The participants were middle-aged and at no increased risk for colon cancer or polyps. About two-thirds were overweight and about half exercised for at least an hour a week.

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