New Study: Exercise Lowers Cancer Risk & How Your Law Firm Can Encourage Fitness!

According to a new study—which confirms pretty much every other study—exercise is the best thing for your body, even reducing your chance of developing cancer. In fact, you may reduce your chances of developing cancer by seven percent overall, and much more when taking into account specific types of cancer.

The study, which involved over 1.4 million people, conducted by the National Cancer Institute, was recently published in the JAMA Internal Medicine (via Voice of America).

In it, researchers found that the risk of developing specific types of cancers plummeted: esophageal cancer by 42 percent, liver cancer by 27 percent, lung cancer by 26 percent, specific type of leukemia by 20 percent, and breast cancer by 10 percent.

Exercise “can help people reduce their risk of heart disease. It can reduce the risk of diabetes. It extends life expectancy,” added Steven Moore of the National Cancer Institute, who led the aforementioned study, in an interview with NBC News.

Among the possible workout routines were walking, running, and swimming. Researchers also took into account the amount of each exercise in minutes per week and controlled for other risks of cancer like smoking and obesity.

Moore explained that potential mechanisms resulting in these outcomes were potentially lower hormone levels, like estrogen, which has been known to lower the risk of breast and endometrial cancers. Also, exercise helps maintain insulin, explained Moore, which may lower overall inflammation in the body.

Of course, diet helps drive these results, but researchers are overwhelmingly convinced that exercise is the key to low stress and higher levels of health.

Most people are aware of the importance of exercise, but lack the motivation to begin working out.

Any workplace (especially in stressful ones like at a law firm) should take two steps toward improving employee productivity and job satisfaction.

The first step is preventative. Encourage your employees to exercise by incentivizing them with interoffice “most steps” competitions. Give out Fitbit devices for your year-end or other milestone bonuses and conduct a contest. The most steps in the week or month, for example, wins something—like being taken out to lunch, Starbucks gift card, or a small prize. The idea is simple, yet the results can be life-changing for an individual.

For the firm, exercise leads to lower stress and lower illness, which will lead an employee to work in an efficient and timely manner.

If a contest won’t work for your firm, strike up a deal with a neighboring gym to provide employees with free or heavily discounted memberships.

This will help a firm prevent the next step: post-illness planning and policies.

What happens when an employee is diagnosed with cancer?

With 1.7 million new cancer cases expected in 2016, your firm will most definitely be impacted by this disease.

Thankfully, with advances in the treatment in cancer, a diagnosis does not have to be as grim a prognosis as it once was.

In fact, many employees with cancer are willing and able to work during the treatment and recovery process—but cancer in the workplace raises a myriad of complexities for employers, including:

  • ADA and reasonable accommodation issues
  • FMLA leave—particularly intermittent leave
  • GINA compliance, particularly with family medical history concerning cancer
  • Managing questions, rumors, and gossip in an effective yet legally compliant way
  • Confidentiality concerning the employee’s diagnosis—and prognosis
  • Medical certifications
  • EAP referrals
  • Allegations of bias on the basis of actual or perceived disability
  • Balancing compassion with productivity concerns

So, it’s important for your firm to learn more about best policies and practices when faced with this challenge, including:

  • The employer’s role in providing accurate information about employees’ rights and obligations to take advantage of the benefits your organization may offer, such as short- and long-term disability
  • What the employee expects, and your legal obligations to meet their requests
  • Tips on how to handle employees’ emotional reactions and attitudes in dealing with cancer diagnoses, from both a human compassion level and the impact on performance
  • Practical ways in which the ADA and the FMLA may intersect concerning cancer diagnoses
  • Types of ADA accommodations that may be required for employees dealing with the impact of cancer or the side-effects of treatment that may take many months 

Take C4CM’s webinar today, “Managing Cancer in the Workplace: Legal and Practical Solutions for Accommodating Employees with Cancer,” on Thursday, June 2, 2016, from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern time.

After the webinar you will have the proper training, but with proper encouragement and dose of daily exercise, hopefully you and your firm won’t have to use it.

-WB

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