Exercise Reduces Cancer Incidence and Death in Smokers

Men who are current or former smokers who have higher cardiorespiratory fitness may be less likely to develop lung cancer and have a reduced risk of mortality, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers assessed cardiorespiratory fitness via treadmill tests in 2,979 men from 1987 to 2014. In this cohort, 1,602 were former smokers and 1,377 were current smokers. Patients were prospectively followed for a mean 11.6 years.

There were 99 cases of lung cancer, and 79 patients died from cancer 3.6 years after diagnosis.

Moderate to high exercise and cancer risk

Among former smokers, one metabolic equivalents (1-MET) increase and moderate and high cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with 13% (P=0.16), 51%, and 77% (P=0.015) reductions in lung cancer incidence.

Among current smokers who were later diagnosed with lung cancer, 1-MET increase and moderate and high cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with 18% (P=0.008), 84%, and 85% (P<0.001) reductions in cancer mortality. The population attributable fraction for lung cancer incidence was 10.8% among former smokers and 22.3% for cancer mortality among current smokers.

“Screening for low cardiorespiratory fitness and achieving at least moderate cardiorespiratory fitness could potentially reduce lung cancer morbidity and mortality, providing a preventive strategy for smokers,” the researchers concluded.