According to a new study, exercising regularly can decrease the risk of developing bowel cancer and slow the growth of tumours.

The research was published in the ‘International Journal of Cancer’.

It revealed that strenuous physical activity helps the body release interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cancer-fighting protein, into the bloodstream to repair the DNA of damaged cells. 

“Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk as to the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it. Our findings support this idea,” said Dr. Sam Orange, a lecturer of Exercise Physiology at Newcastle University.

“When exercise is repeated multiple times each week over an extended period, cancer-fighting substances — such as IL-6 — released into the bloodstream have the opportunity to interact with abnormal cells, repairing their DNA and reducing growth into cancer,” he added.

Also Read: Moderate exercise program may improve cancer treatment outcomes: Study

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Newcastle and York St John universities who recruited 16 male participants between the age of 50 and 80 who possessed certain risk factors of developing bowel cancer, such as obesity.

After getting their blood drawn out, the participants indulged in a cycling activity on indoor bikes for 30-minutes at moderate intensity. The second blood sample was taken after the exercise. 

Also Read: Here’s a 10-minute morning workout routine to start your day

As the researchers examined the two blood samples, they found that the second sample displayed a larger amount of the IL-6 protein.

They also observed that exercise slows the growth of cancer cells and helps repair cells in the body. 

 “Our findings are really exciting because they reveal a newly identified mechanism underlying how physical activity reduces bowel cancer risk that is not dependent on weight loss,” Dr. Orange said.

“Understanding these mechanisms better could help develop more precise exercise guidelines for cancer prevention. It could also help develop drug treatments that mimic some of the health benefits of exercise,” he added.

“Physical activity of any type, and any duration, can improve health and reduce bowel cancer risk but more is always better. People who are sedentary should begin by moving more and look to build physical activity into their daily routines,” he concluded.