Researchers studied the relationship between exercise and the development of ovarian cancer in over 2,500 participants who filled out self-administered questionnaires. The results showed that high levels of moderate recreational activity were correlated with a decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer. Women who held jobs that required moderate or strenuous activity also had a decreased risk. Interestingly, there was no decrease in risk for women who participated in vigorous physical activity. The study also broke down the disease by tumor type and found that moderate exercise reduced the incidence of certain types of ovarian tumors but not others.
Researchers speculate that physical activity may prevent ovarian cancer by regulating hormone and growth factor levels, enhancing the immune system, improving the antioxidant defense system, and by reducing obesity, which increases ovarian cancer risk. They hypothesize that vigorous activity did not decrease cancer risk because too much strenuous exercise may cause immune suppression and in extreme cases, could cause an increase of free radicals and other cellular disturbances, thereby canceling out the protective effects of exercise.
Regular exercise can work wonders for your physical and mental health, helping to prevent many diseases. A sedentary lifestyle does just the opposite. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Walking, cycling, and swimming are all considered moderate exercise. This is just one study involving many confounding factors, and it is not a reason to scale back your workout routine if it happens to be more intense. If you’re concerned that you may be overdoing it, learn about the signs of overtraining and talk with your doctor to confirm that your exercise routine is safe for you.
Moderate Exercise Prevents Ovarian Cancer
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