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Physical Activity and Cancer 

Physical Activity and Cancer
Physical Activity and Cancer
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)

Christine M. Friedenreich

, Heather K. Neilson

, and Darren M. R. Brenner


The relation between physical activity and cancer incidence has now been investigated in over 300 epidemiologic studies around the world to understand the biologic mechanisms underlying these associations. This chapter summarizes epidemiologic evidence that relates physical activity to the incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, endometrium, prostate, ovary, and lung. The strength and consistency of the evidence, dose-response relations, and possible subgroup effects are discussed, as are some methodologic issues related to these findings. Pooled estimates of cancer risk reduction from physical activity are presented for each cancer site, producing average risk reductions of 25%–30% for colon/colorectal and endometrial cancers, 20%–25% for breast and lung cancers, 10%–15% for ovarian cancer, and less than 10% for prostate cancer. A number of biologic mechanisms are hypothesized to mediate these associations, including adiposity, endogenous sex hormones, insulin-related factors, inflammation, immune function and oxidative stress, and site-specific mechanisms for lung and colon cancers.

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