THURSDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Men who are physically fit in middle age have a lower risk of developing and dying from certain cancers, new research indicates.
"Fitness is a huge predictor of [cancer] risk," said Dr. Susan Lakoski, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Vermont, in Burlington. "You need to be fit to protect yourself against a cancer diagnosis in older age."
Men who were fit in their 40s, 50s and 60s were less likely decades later to get lung or colorectal cancer, she found. Those who were fit were also less likely to die from prostate, lung or colorectal cancers.
She is scheduled to present her research, supported by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, on June 2 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
While other studies have found physical activity protects against certain cancers, Lakoski said fewer studies have looked at the importance of fitness to predict whether men would develop or die from cancers.
For the study, Lakoski and her colleagues evaluated more than 17,000 men who had a single cardiovascular fitness assessment as part of a preventive health checkup at the Cooper Clinic, in Dallas, when they were 50, on average.
The men walked on a treadmill under a regimen of changing speed and incline. Their results were categorized into five groups, from lowest fitness level to highest.
Later on, the researchers analyzed Medicare claims data to identify the participants who had developed three common cancers among U.S. men -- lung, colorectal or prostate.
The average follow-up period was 20 to 25 years. During that time, 2,332 men developed prostate cancer, 276 developed colorectal cancer and 277 developed lung cancer.
During the follow up, 769 men died -- 347 of cancer, 159 of heart disease and 263 of other causes.
The men who were most fit on th
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