Cycling to work could reduce cancer risk, says study

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A new study from the University of Glasgow suggests cycling to work can help you live longer and reduce the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

Researchers studied 250,000 UK commuters over 5 years, comparing people who had an ‘active’ commute with those who were mainly sitting or standing. The average age of those studied was 52.  

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that cycling to work lowers the risk of developing cancer by 45 per cent, and lowers the risk of dying early by 40 per cent. The risk of heart disease was found to be halved by a daily bike ride.

In the course of the study 37 people in the cyclist group died, although researchers say the findings suggest that 63 would have died if all had commuted by public transport or car.

The study found that the health boost was improved the further people cycled. Walking to work was found to cut the risk of heart disease by 27 per cent, if the distance walked was over 6 miles per week.

No difference was found between the results for men and women.

Dr Jason Gill, from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Science at Glasgow University, called for the government to do more to make cycling safer and more popular. He said: ‘Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes.

‘If these associations are causal, these findings suggest that policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidized cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport may present major opportunities for public health improvement.’

He continued: ‘You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation.’

Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK said: ‘This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life.

‘You don’t need to join a gym or run the marathon. Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath – whether it’s cycling all or part way to work or doing some housework – can help make a difference.’