Study finds a man’s cardio fitness influences prostate cancer risk

According to a recent study from Sweden, a man’s cardio fitness level may impact his likelihood of developing or surviving three of the most prevalent cancers in men, including prostate cancer.

The study found that having higher cardio fitness levels is linked to a decreased risk of colon and lung cancers. The research also reveals that cardio fitness can impact a man’s chances of surviving prostate, colon, and lung cancers.

What the study found

According to senior lecturer Elin Ekblom-Bak with the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences in Stockholm, having good cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) doesn’t just lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, as commonly known, but also lowers cancer risk in men.

According to Ekblom-Bak, cancer prevention guidelines emphasize physical activity. Still, her research indicates that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is also crucial in reducing the risk of cancer and death from common cancers in men. To reach this conclusion, Ekblom-Bak and her team studied data from almost 178,000 Swedish men who underwent occupational health assessments between October 1982 and December 2019.

The male participants underwent a cardio health test during the evaluation while cycling on an exercise bike. The doctors monitored their blood oxygen levels throughout the activity.

The researchers monitored the men’s health through Swedish health registries to determine who developed cancer. They discovered a significant link between cardiovascular fitness and a reduced risk of developing or dying from specific types of cancer, as reported by Ekblom-Bak.

Simply put, higher fitness levels in men are linked to a reduced cancer risk. Specifically, individuals with moderate or high cardio fitness have a 28% and 37% lower risk of developing colon cancer than those with very low fitness levels.

According to the results, men with moderate and high cardio fitness levels have a lower risk of succombing to prostate cancer than men with very low fitness levels. Specifically, the risk is reduced by 43% and 71%, respectively.

According to researchers, men with high cardio fitness have a 59% lower risk of death from lung cancer after taking smoking into account.

On June 29, the journal JAMA Network Open published the findings of a study that stands out for its high number of male participants who underwent a reliable test to assess their cardio fitness. Additionally, their height and weight were measured by doctors. Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, highlighted the uniqueness of this study.

Why exercise should be an integral part of every day life

Past research has indicated that improved fitness can lower cancer risk in both men and women. There are many physiological changes can occur when someone exercises and improves their cardiovascular fitness. These changes have been linked to the risk of developing or dying from cancer.

According to Dr. Nicholas Rohs, a thoracic oncologist at Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Center, individuals with better cardio fitness generally experience lower inflammation and improved blood sugar levels. Additionally, they tend to have lower cholesterol levels and leaner body composition.

Stress is another aspect that can affect our cellular systems, and the more stress we have on our body, the more likely that cancer is to occur. Based on the results, men should note the various health benefits exercise provides.

The World Health Organization’s physical activity guidelines encourage individuals to understand that “Every move counts.” This message emphasizes that even small amounts of physical activity are better than none, and increasing physical activity levels is beneficial.

Physical activity should be performed at a moderate intensity to improve or maintain fitness levels, described as somewhat hard with quickened breathing. It is important to note that genetics also play a role in fitness improvement, in addition to the amount and intensity of physical activity. 

Individuals can improve their cardiovascular health daily by engaging in high-intensity exercises such as brisk walking, biking, jogging, or swimming to elevate their heart rates and enhance cardiovascular output. It’s already known that the best way to improve the health of our heart and lungs is by engaging in activities that elevate our heart rate, increase our breathing, and cause us to sweat. These indicate that our body is working hard and pushing ourselves to become stronger. By pushing our limits, we can achieve greater physical fitness.

Women can also benefit from exercise to lower their risk of cancer. Studies have found similar results in women who exercise have lower rats of breast cancer, colon cancer, and some gynecologic malignancies. Therefore, assuming that the same benefits from this study would also apply to women is reasonable.


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

Study finds a man’s cardio fitness influences prostate cancer risk
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi