Keeping fit may help prevent a wide range of cancers, suggests a new analysis of research from the United States and Europe. Researchers who pooled and analyzed data on 1.44 million people from 12 studies, finds those who were most physically active in their leisure time had a lower risk of developing 13 out of 26 types of cancer, compared with those who were the least active.

The researchers confirmed the already known link between higher levels of exercise and reduced risk for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, and added 10 other cancers to the list.

The greatest reductions were seen in risks for esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver cancer, cancer of the gastric cardia (part of the stomach), kidney cancer, and myeloid leukemia.

Smaller – but still significant – reductions were seen in myeloma and cancers of the head and neck, rectum, and bladder.

The researchers also found that in the most part, links between exercise and cancer were similar in normal and overweight people, and in smokers and people who never smoked.

However, while a reduced risk was found for lung cancer, this only appeared to be relevant to current and former smokers (as opposed to never-smokers). The researchers say the reasons for this are still being investigated.

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