Cancer Prevention & Movement

By Nutritank Writing Team

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Written by Anastasija Den Blanken

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recently held in February a Cancer Prevention week, during which movement as a preventative tool was discussed. However, you may wonder how cancer and movement are connected. To explore this topic let’s have a look at the cancer occurrence statistics in the UK, explore how prevention may help tackle cancer, what role movement plays in this and see what can be done to implement the change.

In the UK there were around 387820 cases of cancer diagnosed in 2019, and if compared with the previous year’s data there was an increase of around 2.8% (WCRF UK, 2022). Sadly, current data shows that about 1 in 2 people in the UK might be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime (WCRF UK, 2022). You may wonder what may increase the risk of cancer in an individual, the following are well-known and researched risk factors of cacner (WCRF UK, 2024B):

– Having a higher BMI

– Lack of physical activity

– Certain dietary habits

– Smoking

– Drinking alcohol

– Being infected with certain viruses or bacteria

– Taking some drugs and medications

– Genetics

– Excessive exposure to sun and UV light

– Overconsumption of sugary drinks

– Radiation.

While we cannot – or not yet at least! – change our genetic makeup or prevent encountering certain viruses or bacteria, there are modifiable risk factors that give us control and therefore mean preventative actions can be taken to minimize the risks of developing cancer. Around 40% of cancer cases can be prevented thanks to various dietary and lifestyle interventions, one of which is including physical activity in your day-to-day routine (WCRF UK, 2024c).

Aside from bringing other benefits to one’s health like supporting mental health, improving stamina and promoting bone health (CDC, 2023), exercise can reduce risks of developing bowel, breast and womb cancers (WCRF UK, 2024d). According to the research exercise is known to be able to improve certain blood biomarkers including insulin and sex hormones, which are known to play an important role in the carcinogenetic activities in the breast and colon cancer pathophysiology (Winzer, et al., 2011). Furthermore, such benefits as blood sugar regulation, reduction of inflammation and improving immune system function are known benefits of exercise, which also help with cancer prevention (Winzer, et al., 2011; Idorn & thor Straten, 2017).

If you are looking for a way to implement exercise into your daily routine, have a look at the WCRF resources from Cancer Prevention week. Every little or big movement helps and brings you closer to a healthier life.


CDC, 2023. Benefits of Physical Activity. [Online] Available at:,activity%20gain%20some%20health%20benefits. [Accessed 5 March 2024].

Idorn, M. & thor Straten, P., 2017. Exercise and cancer: from “healthy” to “therapeutic”?. Cancer Immunol Immunother, 66(5), p. 667–671.

WCRF UK, 2022. UK CANCER STATISTICS. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2024].

WCRF UK, 2024a. CANCER PREVENTION ACTION WEEK. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2024].

WCRF UK, 2024b. WHAT CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK OF CANCER?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2024].

WCRF UK, 2024c. WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT PREVENTING CANCER. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2024].

WCRF UK, 2024d. BEING INACTIVE AND CANCER RISK. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 5 March 2024].

Winzer, B. M., Whiteman, D. C., Reeves, M. M. & Paratz, J. D., 2011. Physical activity and cancer prevention: a systematic review of clinical trials.. Cancer Causes and Control, 22(6), pp. 811-826.

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