Men who maintain good physical fitness have a lower risk of lung and colorectal cancer, according to study findings presented at the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

The study, by Susan G. Lakowski, MD, and colleagues, prospectively followed a cohort of 17,049 men with a mean age of 50 years undergoing preventative health at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas over more than 20 years. The V02max was calculated for each patient during a treadmill test to assess cardiorespiratory fitness.

The investigators used Medicare claims data to determine who died or developed lung, colorectal, or prostate cancer (PCa). Men in the highest quintile of cardiorespiratory fitness levels had a 68% and 38% decreased risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer, respectively, compared with men in the lowest quintile.

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The researchers found no significant effect of fitness on PCa.

Among men who developed any of the three cancers, the risk of death was 64% lower among those in the highest versus lowest quintile of fitness.