According to a team of US experts, people who are more active are less likely to develop the cancer than people who do very little.
The analysis of 52 studies, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found exercise cuts the risk of bowel cancer, including colon cancer, by causing substances in undigested foods which are known to cause cancer to move through the bowel quicker.
Regular exercise also reduces the amount of insulin and other hormones, which are linked to the growth of tumours, and cuts inflammation in the bowel, which could otherwise cause bowel cancer.
The latest studies looked at research covering many types of exercise and activity, including manual labour at work, running and going to the gym.
One of the studies by the US Nurses' Health Study compared women who walked briskly for five to six hours a week with those who walked for 30 minutes a week or less.
The results showed that for men and women who took regular exercise, the risk of colon cancer was cut by 24%.
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