If there is one reason for you to get more fresh air and do regular vigorous physical activity,  it’s because you may significantly reduce your chances of getting cancer.    The presence of more oxygen in your body can help keep cancer from taking hold within you.    This theory is rarely discussed but it has been around since the early 1900s.      Dr. Otto Warburg of Germany won a Nobel Prize for it in 1931 so there must be substance to his findings.    This blog puts this theory on the table for your evaluation.

The low-oxygen theory as a key risk factor for cancer is still controversial among cancer researchers.   That’s because cancer has many causes and many risk factors.    Low oxygen levels in your body is not the focus of much cancer research.     It’s difficult to grasp the interactions of multiple risk factors in diseases such as cancer and to assess the degree of risk of each factor may contribute to cancer onset.     However, this much is certain:    Insufficient oxygen in a cell weakens that cell’s ability to function.     When a cell is malfunctioning it’s ability to reproduce a strong and vigorous copy of itself is weakened.     There is then greater chance the new cells produced by the organs of your body to replace older ones are incapable of carrying out their respective jobs as well as previous generations.     Or worse still begin to function abnormally (cancer).           

Fighting cancer is a topic discussed frequently in the new media.      Reports quite often dwell on developments in pharmaceuticals as the solutions to defeat cancers.     Perhaps it’s easier to glorify a drug’s potential to destroy cancer (?) than to explain the possibility that a condition such as low oxygen levels in your cells may really be what’s leaving you prone to cancer in the first place.       Is prevention forgotten in favor of letting cancer happen? 

Cancer societies for the most part continue to fundraise on the basis of finding “the cure”.     Raise money to fight cancer or to come up with elaborate tests to predict if you may get cancer.    The latest trend is to genetically test you for quirks in your DNA to see if you may have a propensity to certain diseases including cancer.   Then what?      If research points to oxygen as your ally to induce more vigorous and healthy cell functioning,  have cancer societies pressed the case for more exercise or for more research to support ways to improve the oxygen quality in consumers’ environments?      

Dr. Otto Warburg’s research linking cancer with poor oxygen respiration has in fact inspired others to further investigate his findings.    Since 1931 researchers in U.S. universities,  the National Cancer Institute and in other countries have added their support to Warburg’s theory.    Here’s the theory in summary:

  • Essentially the hundreds of billions of cells ( or perhaps in the trillions) that make up your body each stay alive because they extract energy from food you eat particularly glucose.    Glucose,  one of the primary cellular fuels,  is derived from carbohydrate digestion,  remanufactured from certain amino acids,  or comes ready-to-use (such as when you eat some honey).     The most efficient way to extract the most energy from glucose is with the help of oxygen.    That’s why when you exercise you begin to breathe at a faster rate to pump more oxygen into your blood to be delivered to all those billions of working cells.    With sufficient oxygen,  each cell is able to extract abundant energy to do its job strongly and in harmonious coordination with its billions of partners.     This especially applies to your immune system’s many types of specialized cells which are the protectors of your body against cancer.     
  • Your body cells can survive and operate, however,  at much lower speed when there is much less oxygen available to them.     With less oxygen available (for many reasons),  the energy-extracting ability from glucose by your body cells slows down dramatically.     This stunts the ability of all cells throughout your entire body to function at their best.   Worse still when cells malfunction they lose their ability to work in coordination with others that together make up body tissues and organs.   And your immune system’s cells cannot be replenished efficiently and those your body produces may not have full protective potential.

Chronic low-oxygen levels from sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for cancer in humans.     Studies indicate that women who were physically active before puberty had lower incidence of breast cancer.     Also women who did physical training at least a few times per week also had reduced risk of breast cancer.    A Swedish study examined over a million men’s health records over nineteen years and concluded that those who had sat at their jobs for over 40 percent of their working careers had  between 30 – 60% higher risk of getting colon cancer.

Exercise and physical activity done every day or at least several times per week oxygenates your blood and thus your body’s cells.    Modest vigor in your daily life’s activities can contribute to the wellness strength of your body and help put up a wall of resistance to cancer to preventing cancer.     Take action now.    Cancer prevention is within your power.


  1. When I exercise in the summer, biking, hiking or walking through the green woods, breathing the air full of oxygen, I have been able to loose more weight than when I do it in the winter, when there is significantly less oxygen in the air. Does that make sense?

  2. Thank you for this valuable reminder. Consistent exercise is invaluable in staying healthy. Peace and Blessings.

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