Doing This Slashes Your Risk of Dying From Cancer by 15 Percent, New Study Shows

Adding this activity to your fitness regimen could benefit your health in more ways than one.

A disease that manifests in over a hundred forms—all with varying and sometimes hard-to-catch symptoms—cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). That's not the only way the two serious ailments are linked—experts now warn that cancer survivors have a significantly elevated risk of heart disease. With the cancer mortality rate in the US reported to be 602,350, and the number of deaths caused by heart disease reported as 696,962 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's no wonder that both treatments and preventative measures for these diseases are constantly being researched.

A new study has shown that one particular activity can help reduce the risk of death by cancer—as well as heart disease—and researchers say it's never too late to make this activity part of your routine. Read on to find out what it is.

READ THIS NEXT: Eating This One Thing Can Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half, New Study Says.

Cancer caused 10 million deaths worldwide in 2020.

Doctor speaking with patient.
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Cancer is a disease with many variables, because the features and manifestations of the diseases are so wide-ranging. But there is one consistent factor in the very definition of what cancer is and how it works. "One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis," explains the World Health Organization (WHO). "Widespread metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer."

The WHO reports that there were 10 million cancer-related deaths worldwide in 2020, "or nearly one in six deaths" of those afflicted with the disease—but, notably, they point out that between 30 and 50 percent of cancers are preventable "by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies."

There are various ways to reduce the risk of cancer.

Woman in fitness gear drinking water.

Given the prevalence of cancer—and the potential efficacy of preventative measures—researchers are constantly looking for connections between the disease and various aspects of our behavior. We're familiar with some of the measures we can take to reduce our risk of cancer, such as what Harvard Health calls "The Ten Commandments of Cancer Prevention." "Early diagnosis is important, but can you go one better? Can you reduce your risk of getting cancer in the first place?" asks the site. "It sounds too good to be true, but it's not. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75 percent of American cancer deaths can be prevented." Their "Ten Commandments" include not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy diet.

New studies have found other ways to help prevent cancer, as well—and some of them are surprising. Did you know, for example, that while the food you eat is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, the way you prepare that food is also significant? If you grill, deep-fry, or pan-fry your food, it can increase levels of cancer-causing components. Another dietary no-no: Although fish can often be a healthy part of a proper diet, studies have found that if it's prepared a certain way, it can cause cancer.

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Consider adding this activity to your exercise routine.

Woman doing weightlifting.

Of the many healthy lifestyle choices you can make, physical exercise is a crucial one. "Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health," according to the CDC. "Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities," the organization explains.

Now, a new study shows that adding weightlifting to your exercise routine can have an impact on your cancer risk. Reporting on the study, Medical News Today says that "adding weightlifting to aerobic exercise can further reduce the risk of all-cause mortality." Aerobic training on its own reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 32 percent; "the study finds that weightlifting is associated with an additional 9 percent decrease in the risk of all-cause mortality," explains the site. But surprisingly, "weightlifting alone was also associated with a 15 percent reduced risk of cancer mortality."

Weightlifting has various health benefits.

Man working out with fitness trainer.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that "participants who engaged in weight lifting had a significantly lower risk of colon cancer and a trend towards a lower risk of kidney cancer than participants who did not weight lift."

Another study, published by the American College of Sports Medicine, explained that "muscle-strengthening activities stimulate greater development of lean muscle mass, which helps maintain glucose homeostasis, and could in turn lead to lower cancer risk," although researchers note that "more research is needed on the effect of individual muscle-strengthening activities on cancer etiology."

"Even if you've never done any kind of weight training before—it's never too late to start," advises Healthline. Consult with your doctor to make sure that weightlifting is right for you, and Healthline suggests engaging the services of a certified personal trainer. "They'll be able to teach you the proper form for specific exercises and set up a strength training program tailored to your needs."

Luisa Colón
Luisa Colón is a writer, editor, and consultant based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, Latina, and many more. Read more
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