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Br J Cancer. 2001 November; 85(9): 1311–1316.
Published online 2001 September 1. doi:  10.1054/bjoc.2001.2096
PMCID: PMC2375260

Physical activity and risk of cancer in middle-aged men


A prospective study was carried out to examine the relationship between physical activity and incidence of cancers in 7588 men aged 40–59 years with full data on physical activity and without cancer at screening. Physical activity at screening was classified as none/occasional, light, moderate, moderately-vigorous or vigorous. Cancer incidence data were obtained from death certificates, the national Cancer Registration Scheme and self-reporting on follow-up questionnaires of doctor-diagnosed cancer. Cancer (excluding skin cancers) developed in 969 men during mean follow-up of 18.8 years. After adjustment for age, smoking, body mass index, alcohol intake and social class, the risk of total cancers was significantly reduced only in men reporting moderately-vigorous or vigorous activity; no benefit seen at lesser levels. Sporting activity was essential to achieve significant benefit and was associated with a significant dose-response reduction in risk of prostate cancer and upper digestive and stomach cancer. Sporting (vigorous) activity was associated with a significant increase in bladder cancer. No association was seen with colo-rectal cancer. Non-sporting recreational activity showed no association with cancer. Physical activity in middle-aged men is associated with reduced risk of total cancers, prostate cancer, upper digestive and stomach cancer. Moderately-vigorous or vigorous levels involving sporting activities are required to achieve such benefit. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign

Keywords: physical activity, cancer

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