Men who demonstrated a high level of physical fitness on a treadmill test at age 50 were much less likely to have developed lung or colorectal cancer 20 years later – and if they did get one of these diseases, they were less likely to die of it than men who were least fit at 50. Not surprisingly, the men who were most fit also had a lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease later in life. Cardiologist Susan Lakoski, M.D., of the University of Vermont and her team tracked more than 17,000 men who took the treadmill tests at age 50. She followed up on their health status more than 20 years later, using Medicare data to see which ones had died or developed lung, colorectal or prostate cancer. The researchers determined that weight was not the issue. Even thin men were observed to have an increased risk of lung and colorectal cancer if they weren’t fit. Fitness was determined by the men’s maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) on the treadmill. There were no significant differences in the prostate cancer risk between the most fit and the least fit men. An abstract of the study was released in advance of the 2013 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago May 31 to June 4.
Susan G. Lakoski et al "Cardiorespiratory fitness and risk of cancer incidence and cause-specific mortality following a cancer diagnosis in men: The Cooper Center longitudinal study" ASCO 2013; Abstract 1520.