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Exercise And Cancer 101 - Introduction!

Cancer is something that can be brought on by someone's lifestyle, environment, and/or their heredity. The main area that I will be focusing on in this course is cancer. Learn more!

A new course is available at Weik University on exercise and cancer. Those interested in sitting through an easy course, no need to look any further because class has just begun.

Everyone is guaranteed an "A" for the course as long as you sit through the course and pay attention (you can take notes if you wish). From there, all you have to do is take what you learned from the course and utilize throughout your life.


In today's society, there are not many people in the United States who make the time to exercise. The few that do will most likely out live anyone who is not physically active. 83% of all deaths in the United States under that age of 65 are preventable.

The top four killers in the United States are cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. The main area that I will be focusing on in this course is cancer.

Cancer is something that can be brought on by someone's lifestyle, environment, and/or their heredity. The percentages of each of those factors are broken down into categories that influence death:

  • Lifestyle - 53%
  • Environment - 21%
  • Heredity - 16%

As one can see, the factors that are present add up to 90% of the risks of obtaining the disease. By having such a high percentage, it is vital for people to understand how much exercise can cut back the risks of getting cancer.

Cancer is a disease that progresses over time and is often resulting in behaviors established early in life—this is why it is so crucial to understand the effects of exercise on cancer. There are approximately 9.5 million persons in the United States that are cancer survivors. These people survived because of all the things that they changed in their lives to better their well-being.

What Is Cancer?

Due to the fact that cancer can affect anyone, the risk factors are much higher than some of the other diseases in the world today. Many people ask that question of how cancer develops.

    "The genes in a healthy body work together regulating cell division to ensure that each new cell is a replica of the parent cell. In this way, the healthy body grows, replacing dead cells and repairing damaged ones.

    Cancers develop from mutations in the genes that regulate cell division. The mutations silence the genes that ordinarily monitor replicating DNA for chemical errors. The affected cells seemingly have no built-in brakes to half cell division.

    As the abnormal mass of cells, called a malignant tumor or neoplasm grows, blood vessels form to supply the tumor with the nutrients it needs to support its growth. Eventually, the tumor invades healthy tissue and may spread. Clinicians describe cancers by their size and extent, specifically noting if the tumor has spread to surrounding lymph nodes or to distant sites in the body" (Whitney, 1999).

A gene that causes cancer is called an oncogene. Within a tiny segment of DNA, is a region that can be stimulated to form an oncogene—this region is called a proto-oncogene. Without the region being activated, the region will never cause cancer. If the region does become cancerous, it spreads and acts with other oncogenes to replicate and spread the abnormal cells.

What Is An Oncogene?
An oncogene is a gene with a DNA sequence that causes cancer. Many cells are normally destined to die. In cancer, because of that DNA sequence, those cells survive and proliferate. Most oncogenes require an additional step, such as mutations in another gene, or environmental factors such as viral infection, to cause cancer. Since the 1980s, dozens of oncogenes have been identified in human cancer. Many new cancer drugs target those DNA sequences and their products.

Risk Factors

How people live their lifestyle will depend on if their risk for cancer is increased. If people use a tanning booth or smoke will all affect their risk factors. When it comes to environmental factors, exposure to radiation, the sun, water and air pollution, and smoking (second hand smoke) are all major components of getting cancer.

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Some cancers appear to have run through family genes also. If a family has had a history of cancer, the risk factors for their children are higher than those families who haven't had any history of cancer in the family.

A big factor that we have not touched on yet is exercise and cancer prevention. 100 years ago 94% of work was done by hand. In today's world, only 4% of work is done by hand. Therefore, there are more desk jobs and careers where people are sedentary throughout the day than there was in the past.

The main jobs that are still using man power are construction work, ditch digging or shoveling, anything with the use of power tools, and farming. Exercise has been known to help prevent:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Uterus cancer

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The ACSM recommendation is to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, at least 4 days a week. The 30 minutes can either be all at once or split up throughout the day in 10-minute increments. Exercising cuts down on obesity, which is known to cause some types of cancers.

How Many Days A Week Do You Workout?

One Day.
Two Days.
Three Days.
Four Days.
Five Days.
Six Days.
Seven Days.

Exercise causes an increase in hormones that could also have a positive affect on prevention.

    "Exercising, by speeding up metabolism, is generally believed to speed up the passages of ingested foods through the colon—thus reducing the time the colon mucosal lining is in contact with possible carcinogens" (Anonymous, 2003).

Preventative Activities

There are many different activities that can be done throughout the day to help lower the chances of getting cancer. Some of the normal activities that people do throughout the day range from:

  • Walking instead of driving
  • Raking
  • Gardening
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Cleaning the house
  • Mowing the lawn

People really need to do extra things outside of what examples are given above to get the true benefits out of exercising to prevent disease. This does not mean that people need to go out and run marathons or need to become a bodybuilder to get the effects of becoming more healthy. Some of the things that people can do that are specifically for the purpose of exercising are as follows:

What Exercise Is Best For You?

Out of all the exercises above, the best exercises out of all of them are the ones you enjoy. As long as people are actively doing something that they enjoy, they will be more likely to stick with it and enjoy doing it. If they choose something that they dislike, it will not be fun or enjoyable and they will most likely quit.

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Over the last year have I begun to find ways to make it fun and look at it as a way to get creative. I don't hate cardio now.
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It is a widely known statistic that more than 50% of exercisers will quit before they reach the six-month mark. This is due in part by having them do exercises that they do not enjoy. As a result of picking one they like, they can get the full benefit out of the exercise being through the mind, body, and spirit.

If possible, get a friend or family member to exercise with. This will not only give the person motivation, but it is also a support system. By teaming up with a partner(s), people push each other to exercise and keep up with the other person. Not only will it make them feel better about themselves and their bodies, but they will be thankful in the long run for having exceptional health.

A good plan of action is also for people to set realistic goals that they can strive for and achieve. Setting and achieving lifelong goals for an appropriate weight, a healthy diet, and a physically active lifestyle are important to promote quality of life and longevity.

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They did everything right, ate what I told them, exercised, supplemented, got proper rest, but yet when they stepped on that scale, it didn't reflect back.
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Diet Along With Exercise

Along with exercise, it is most advantageous to eat a well balanced diet—which many people do not eat. Many of the foods we eat today are high in fat and cholesterol, which are unhealthy. Most people will splurge for fast food or takeout because it is fast and convenient. However, this is not the way to go; exercise and diet go hand-in-hand.

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If people can exercise on a daily basis and eat a well balanced diet, their risk of getting cancer will drop down to a small percent. Dennis Savaiano, Dean of Purdue University's School of Consumer and Family Sciences, recommends including these guidelines in your diet:

    "Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes; avoiding empty calories from processed foods high in fat and/or sugar; exercising regularly; and limiting or abstaining from alcohol. Consumers should not let fear of pesticide residues deter them from eating fruits and vegetables because the benefits of eating these foods appear to outweigh any potential risk" (Savaiano, 2000).

Diet can also play a part in preventing breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer. The biggest slogan out on the market now is the "5 A Day" slogan. What this is asking is for Americans to strive to reach five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Higher intake of fruits and vegetables may be connected with a lower prevalence of colorectal and lung cancers as well as esophageal, oral, and stomach cancers. Along with this program they encourage everyone from children to adults to get involved in physical activity during the day. They ask children to exercise for at least 60 minutes a day and adults to exercise at least 30 minutes per day.

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People should also be sure to add variety to their diet to ensure proper nutritional balances of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Some fats, such as monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, are linked with reduced risk of heart disease and perhaps even cancer.

People should also make sure that they get enough protein in their diet. Protein can be found in eggs, fish, legumes, lean poultry, low-fat meat, nonfat and low-fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Carbohydrates are also necessary for people to ingest because not only is it a form of energy, but they are also rich in essential nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber—such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit.

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Obesity And Exercise

Obesity plays a key role in getting cancers in the United States. More than 30% of Americans are considered obese. Some of the most common cancers such as colorectal cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer are due to obesity.

There is increasing evidence that indicates that being overweight increases the threat for recurrence of many cancers. An increase in exercise has been proven to lower weight and obesity in humans. Therefore exercise is an important component in diminishing the chances of getting some forms of cancer.


As statistics have shown in recent studies, exercise is a common way to lower the chances of getting numerous types of cancers. If people make an effort to schedule times to exercise in their day, they could increase their longevity. Not only will these individuals lower their chances for cancer, but they will also:

Most of them will have the feeling of accomplishment in everything they do—knowing that they made a better life for themselves and their family. There is only one true wealth, and that is health.


  1. Whitney, Eleanor Noss & Rolfes, Sharon Rady. (1999). Understanding Nutrition (8th Ed.). Belmont: West/Wadsworth.
  2. Anonymous. (2003, April). Exercise and Cancer Prevention [Electronic Version]. Cancer Information Service in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Retrieved from
  3. Savaiano, Dennis. (2000, February). Studies Confirm Diet and Exercise Are Key in Cancer Prevention. Personal MD: Your Lifeline Online. Retrieved from
  4. Baechle, Thomas R. & Earle, Roger W. (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (2nd Ed.). Champaign: Human Kinetics.
  5. Brown, Jean K. (2003). Nutrition and Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment: An American Cancer Society Guide for Informed Choices. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinician, 53, 268-291.
  6. Ries LAG, Eisner MP, Kosary CL, et al, eds. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975- 2000. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2003. Retrieved from
  7. Shils ME, Olson JA. (1999). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (9th Ed.). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.