Increased physical activity is associated with lower risk of 13 types of cancer



Previous studies that had examined associations between physical activity and cancer risk showed that people who engage in more physical activity have reduced risks of developing colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. However, research results were inconclusive for other cancer types due to small numbers of participants in the studies.


IRP researchers led by Steven Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., pooled data on 1.44 million people from 12 prospective U.S. and European cohorts and found that increased leisure-time physical activity is associated with lower risks for 13 cancer types (esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia, endometrial, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder, and breast). Most of the associations were evident regardless of body mass index or smoking history.


The team’s findings confirm and provide specific evidence that physical activity has significant positive effects on cancer risk and should play a key role in population-wide cancer prevention and control efforts.


Moore SC, Lee I, Weiderpass E, Campbell PT, Sampson JN, Kitahara CM, Keadle SK, Arem H, Berrington de Gonzalez A, Hartge P, Adami H, Blair CK, Borch KB, Boyd E, Check DP, Fournier A, Freedman ND, Gunter M, Johannson M, Khaw K, Linet MS, Orsini N, Park Y, Riboli E, Robien K, Schairer C, Sesso H, Spriggs M, Van Dusen R, Wolk A, Matthews CE, Patel AV. (2016). Leisure-time physical activity and risk of 26 types of cancer in 1.44 million adults. JAMA Internal Medicine. 176(6):816–825.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, June 13, 2023