Men who keep active slash their risk of prostate cancer by half. Picture: File

London - Men who keep active slash their risk of prostate cancer by half, research suggests.

Experts say exercise – which can include gardening or walking – has a "far larger" protective effect than previously thought.

A team funded by Cancer Research UK measured physical activity among 79 148 men with prostate cancer and 61 106 without. They looked at variations in DNA related to how active they are, rather than relying on what the men said about their lifestyles.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that the most active men had a 51 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared with those who were the least active.

Bristol University researchers looked at how active 140,248 men were by looking at variations in their DNA - rather than relying on questionnaires. 

But the analysis showed the effects of the genes were smaller, suggesting it activity was the reason for the cancer-preventing benefit.

Lead author Dr Sarah Lewis of Bristol Medical School said: "Our findings suggest that the more active you are, the better. Being active could be things such as gardening, walking or other activities you can build into your routine."

"Our evidence suggests being active will be beneficial in terms of their prostate cancer risk.

"But it doesn't have to be vigorous activity or playing team sports, you just have to move about."

The results were the most striking for exercise, even more so than other risk factors for the killer disease such as family history.  

The World Cancer Research Fund said: "This will pave the way for even more research... to help identify ways men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer."

Daily Mail