POTTERING around can help slash prostate cancer risk by half, a study suggests.
Experts said gentle physical activity has a “far larger” protective effect than previously thought.
In the biggest study of its kind, Bristol University researchers analysed data on 140,000 men.
Scientists found people with genes linked to greater physical activity had a 51 per cent lower risk of prostate cancer.
The results suggest even mild exertion – such as gardening or walking – can slash a person’s chances of the disease.
Experts say this type of genetic study, known as a Mendelian randomisation, is a much more reliable method of calculating risk.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Lewis said she was surprised by impact of everyday activity on prostate cancer risk.
She said: “The take home message for men is that if you want to reduce your prostate cancer risk, be more active.
“But it doesn’t have to be vigorous activity or playing team sports, you just have to move about.
“It could be things such as gardening, walking or other activities that you can build into your daily routine.
“Simply getting off the couch and moving around is beneficial.
“Most of these men in this study were aged over 50 and we can assume they were not all marathon runners.
“Our findings suggest that the more active you are, the better.”
The study, funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and Cancer Research UK, is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Around one in six Brit men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
But the WCRF said this risk could drop substantially if more men got off the couch.
Dr Anna Diaz Font, head of research funding at the WCRF, said: “Up till now, there has only been limited evidence of an effect of physical activity on prostate cancer.”
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Prostate cancer affects 48,000 people a year in the UK – and kills 12,000.
Dr Matthew Hobbs, from Prostate Cancer UK said: “Currently there is little known about what causes a man to be at increased risk of prostate cancer, or what he can do to reduce his risk.
“Previous research has indicated that being overweight may increase risk of prostate cancer that’s aggressive and that a healthy diet and regular physical activity are important for overall health.”