You’d struggle to find someone whose life hadn’t been affected by cancer in some way. This is why we’re constantly inundated with messages from the NHS to take measures to both decrease our chances (such as not smoking) and spot the early signs if something sinister is happening to our bodies.
Well, funnily enough, a lot of us were doing a great job of decreasing our chances all along just by cycling regularly. This seems too good to be true, right? Let’s dig a little deeper and see for ourselves…
Discover more: What Are The Health Benefits Of Cycling? [Interactive]
Reducing the odds
In the UK, someone is diagnosed with cancer every 2 minutes, so you can see why the NHS invests so much time and money to try and decrease our risk. While no one can eradicate their chance of cancer, there are plenty of precautions we can take to minimise the risk as much as possible.
We’re told time and time again things such as cigarettes and alcohol contain harmful cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. As such, a lot of health messaging warns us to cut down on these things as well as making sure we have a healthy general lifestyle. However, the issue with this is that the damage is often done while we’re young, and since half of all cancer cases occur in those 70 and older we tend to not be worrying about it enough to make a change to our habits.
Reversing the ageing process
Unfortunately, as we age, many things start to go downhill, and we’re not just talking about wrinkles. The older we get, our body’s cells are more likely to get damaged due to prolonged exposure to risk factors such as cigarettes or alcohol. It’s these damaged cells that are more likely to grow and multiply more than usual and this is how cancer starts.
What’s more, our immune system declines as we get older – as much as 2-3% every year starting in our 20s – and our immune system can play a role in helping to fight cancer, whereby immune system cells can recognise cancer cells as abnormal and kill them.
Taking both of these things into account, you can see why developing cancer as we pass 70 is so much more likely.
Is cycling the magic medicine?
We’re finally going to tell you some good news! It turns out that cycling to decrease your risk of cancer isn’t just a pipe dream after all. A recent study found that those who cycle regularly cut the risk of dying from cancer by 45%.
The five-year study looked at 250,000 UK commuters to see how their mode of transport affected their chances of dying from cancer. The cyclists who were studied cycled an average of 30 miles per week, but it was also found that the further they cycled, the greater the health benefit.
While cycling may not be a miracle pill, the evidence that a long-term commitment to pedalling will result in our cancer chances being slashed is enough - for us anyway - to keep regularly hitting the saddle.
If you are planning on hitting the roads for a health boost, be sure to check out cycling insurance.