Physical Activity Before and After Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
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- Harriss, D.J., Cable, N.T., George, K. et al. Sports Med (2007) 37: 947. doi:10.2165/00007256-200737110-00003
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Physical inactivity may be responsible for 13–14% of colon cancer, an attributable risk greater than family history. Epidemiological evidence shows an association between occupational and recreational physical activity and colon cancer, but has not established whether physical activity is protective against low-risk or more advanced adenomas. The evidence is inconclusive as to whether physical activity protects against rectal cancer and is conflicting with respect to whether physical activity has equal effects on male and female risk of colorectal cancer. The effect of exercise ‘interventions’ on the risk of colorectal cancer is currently not known. Also, although inferences can be made from epidemiological studies, no optimal exercise regimen can be confidently prescribed for protection against colorectal cancer. There is little available evidence for the benefits of physical activity before diagnosis of colorectal cancer for disease-specific survival and prognosis, and the clinical effects of an exercise intervention after diagnosis have not been investigated. There is some evidence that improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness reduce adverse effects from cancer treatment when physical activity is undertaken following diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Markers/mechanisms by which physical activity may protect against colorectal cancer and/or improve disease prognosis include gastrointestinal transit-time, chronic inflammation, immune function, insulin levels, insulin-like growth factors, genetics and obesity. Research evidence is, however, limited as to whether these markers are beneficially affected by physical activity, either before or after diagnosis of colorectal cancer.