BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2008) 98, 1864–1869. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604354 www.bjcancer.com
Published online 27 May 2008

Association of physical activity with cancer incidence, mortality, and survival: a population-based study of men

N Orsini1, C S Mantzoros2 and A Wolk1

  1. 1Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence: N Orsini, Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, P.O. Box, SE-171 77, Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: nicola.orsini@ki.se

Revised 14 March 2008; Accepted 17 March 2008



Within a population-based cohort study, 40708 men aged 45–79 years followed from 1998 to 2004. After adjusting for potential confounders, we observed a strong inverse linear association between total daily physical activity (PA) and death from cancer (n=1153). For each increment of 4 metabolic equivalent (MET)-hday−1 of total PA (approximately 1h daily of moderate effort) cancer incidence (n=3714) tended to be decreased by 2% and cancer mortality decreased significantly by 12% (95% confidence interval=6–18%). The 5-year survival after cancer among those men in the top quartile of total PA (77%) was significantly higher compared to the lowest quartile (69%). Compared to those men who hardly ever walked or biked, walking or bicycling an average of 30minday−1 was associated with a 34% (18–47%) lower rate of cancer death and with improved cancer survival by 33% (14–47%). Incidence of cancer was 16% (2–28%) lower among those who walked or biked at least 60minday−1. Our results suggest that higher levels of PA and the main component of active living, walking or bicycling are associated with reduced cancer incidence and mortality, as well as higher cancer survival.


physical activity; cancer; mortality; men; cohort study



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