Cancer: 13 Types You Can Avoid With Regular Exercise

Buttons with the words "cancer sucks" are seen on display in the gift shop at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center

Regular exercise can help you fight these types of cancer. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Among America’s leading causes of death, cancer is the most terrifying and unpredictable. While most people have at least some control over whether they’ll develop heart disease, or even control for many factors that lead to strokes and diabetes, cancers can manifest for seemingly no reason at all. And no part of your body is safe — the disease can form and go undetected for long periods of time just about anywhere.

Though there are things you can do to decrease your risks, you’re never going to be in the clear. Malignant tumors can form as a result of all sorts of things, too. From eating certain types of foods to simply going outside in the sun, carcinogens are lurking anywhere and everywhere.

But according to a study, there’s one surefire way to reduce your risks for as many as 26 different types, and probably more: exercise. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine, the study looked at 1.4 million people over the course of 11 years and found that “leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of many cancer types.”

By gauging the differing amounts of exercise and physical activity among the participants, the researchers found that simply getting more exercise is enough to significantly decrease the chances of a diagnosis. Here are the top 13 types that were found to be the most defeated by increased exercise.

13. Breast cancer

Doctors look at films of breast x-rays at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center

Exercise regularly to lower your risk of breast cancer. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Few diseases get more attention in the media than breast cancer (and for good reason), and you’ll be glad to know that according to this study, regular exercise was tied to a 10% reduction in diagnoses. And men, don’t think that only women need to worry about their breasts — it can happen to you too.

12. Bladder cancer

Doctors perform surgery on a cancer patient

Exercise can help prevent bladder cancer. | Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

Few things sound scarier than bladder cancer, but this study says that you can reduce your odds of getting it by 13% through regular exercise. Older white men seem to be most likely to come down with a case of this specific type, and smoking will increase your chances as well.

11. Rectal cancer

Cancer cells

Regular exercise can help. | ACS/Getty Images

You can chalk rectal cancer up there as one of the most cringe-worthy types that you can be diagnosed with. As with the bladder, you can spare your rectum with regular exercise and physical activity by as much as 13%.

10. Head and neck cancer

A cancer patient recovering after having surgery on his larynx

Head and neck cancer can be very severe. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Exercise can help you increase your odds of avoiding a diagnosis north of your neckline by up to 15%, per this study. That includes all sorts of cancers — ranging from your neck to your head and brain.

9. Colon cancer

A doctor goes over a patient's x-ray, screening for colon cancer

Know your risk of colon cancer. | ACS/Getty Images

Though you might conflate rectal and colon cancer, they are two different types. Exercise can help ward off a colon cancer diagnosis by as much as 16%, the study says. There are a lot of genetic and heredity factors at play with this type as well, so be sure to keep an eye out if you’re already at risk.

8. Myeloma

A cancer patient lies in his hospital bed while receiving IV chemotherapy treatment for a rare form of cancer

Avoid myeloma with regular exercise. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You may not be familiar with myeloma, but it’s a type of cancer that forms in specific types of white blood cells called plasma cells. It causes these cells to become malignant and actively turn your body’s immune system against you. But you can decrease your odds of getting it by 17% by exercising.

7. Myeloid leukemia

Vials containing biological samples are stored on ice

You can significantly help yourself with exercise. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Cancer Research UK

Very similar to myeloma, myeloid leukemia is another type of cancer that infects your blood and white blood cells, as well as your bone marrow. In the case of this type, you can lower your chances of a diagnosis by 20% through regular exercise.

6. Endometrial cancer

Doctors review PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans of a patient being treated at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Woman can certainly be helped with regular exercise. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

For women, endometrial cancer is a serious concern. Warning signs include vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain, as this type actively infects the uterus and causes malignant growths along the inner lining. Scary stuff, but risks can be lowered by 21% by exercising regularly.

5. Stomach cancer

Cancer patient looks at a rack holding bags of chemotherapy while receiving treatment

Exercise can help ward away stomach cancer. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As we’ve covered previously, research shows that we can significantly increase our odds of getting stomach cancer by eating certain types of red meats, drinking alcohol, and being out of shape. Jumping right off of that last point, getting into shape and keeping your body fat percentage in check can help in a big way, especially through regular exercise. You can lower your odds by 22%, according to the study.

4. Kidney cancer

A patient suffering from kidney issues lies on a bed

Your kidneys will thank you for regular exercise. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Lower your risks of kidney problems by 23% by exercising, the study says. Also, lay off the cigarettes and alcohol, and do your best to stay in shape. A big risk factor is simply aging, but there are things you can do to ward off kidney issues.

3. Lung cancer

A view of a close-up of a lung x-ray of a cigarette smoker

Regular exercise can help your lungs. | ACS/Getty Images

The easiest way to maintain healthy lungs as you age? Don’t smoke. But some people live in areas with heavy air pollution and other risk factors. Exercise is an incredibly powerful tool for avoiding lung diseases, it can lower your odds by as much as 26%.

2. Liver cancer

A scientist examining cancer cells

Exercise significantly helps the liver. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Cancer Research UK

Your risk of cancers of the liver can be reduced by 27%, according to the study. Of course, you’ll also want to go easy on the alcohol consumption, and keep an eye out if you have any other common risk factors, like high blood pressure or diabetes.

1. Esophageal cancer

Registered nurse Autumn Small adjusts an IV drip machine for a cancer patient

Exercise really helps your esophagus. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Exercise can lower your odds of being diagnosed with esophageal cancer by a whopping 42%, according to the study. That was by far and away the largest risk reduction identified in the study. This type can manifest in people who eschew eating fruits and vegetables and love to slurp very hot beverages. If that describes you, be sure to get plenty of exercise to offset the risks.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger