Exercise 'cuts bowel growths risk'
Exercise cuts the risk of potentially dangerous growths in the bowel by a third, research has revealed.
Those who lead an active lifestyle are far less likely to have large or advanced polyps in the bowel, which can lead to bowel cancer.
The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, was carried out by experts at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US.
They analysed data from 20 existing studies and found people who lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to have growths.
People who took regular exercise were 16% less likely to develop bowel polyps and 30% less likely to develop large or advanced polyps which are more likely to develop into cancer.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK after breast and lung cancer, with more than 38,000 new cases each year.
Lead author Professor Kathleen Wolin said: "We've long known that an active lifestyle can protect against bowel cancer but this study is the first to look at all the available evidence and show that a reduction in bowel polyps is the most likely explanation for this.
"Exercise has many benefits, including boosting the immune system, decreasing inflammation in the bowel and helping to reduce insulin levels - all factors which we know are likely to have an effect on bowel polyp risk."
Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Evidence shows that keeping active could help to prevent thousands of cases of cancer every year and this study adds weight to evidence showing regular exercise can substantially cut the risk of bowel cancer.
"We'd recommend doing at least half an hour's moderate exercise a day - such as brisk walking or anything that leaves you slightly out of breath."