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Lifetime physical inactivity increases risk for lung cancer

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March 6, 2018

Physical inactivity appeared linked with an increased risk for lung cancer, according to findings published in Cancer Treatment and Research Communications.

“[Although] a recently published meta-analysis of epidemiological evidence reported an inverse association between the highest level of recreational physical activity exposure and lung cancer risk, data representing the associations between physical activity and lung cancer endpoints among women, nonsmokers and among the individual subtypes of lung cancer are limited,” Rikki Cannioto, PhD, EdD, MS, population scientist and cancer epidemiologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues wrote. “Importantly, physical activity exposure is not currently recognized by the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society as a well-established protective or prognostic factor for lung cancer, and little is known about the independent association of physical inactivity with lung cancer risk and diagnosis.”

The researchers performed a hospital-based, case control study of 660 patients with lung cancer and 1,335 healthy controls to evaluate possible associations between lifetime physical inactivity and risk for lung cancer. Individuals who reported no regular, weekly, recreational physical activity throughout their adult lifetime — defined as less than one session per week or four sessions per month — were considered physically inactive.

Lifetime physical inactivity appeared significantly associated with risk for lung cancer (OR = 2.23; 95% CI, 1.77-2.81). This held true for both patients who had never smoked (OR = 3; 95% CI, 1.33-6.78) and nonsmokers (OR = 2.33; 95% CI, 1.79-3.02).

Physical inactivity also appeared associated with lung cancer mortality (HR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.14-1.71), which remained significant among nonsmokers (HR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.16-1.96).

“What is significant is that this increased risk was found even [for] people who had never smoked and were not overweight,” Cannioto said in the press release. “This adds to the growing body of evidence that, much like smoking or obesity, physical inactivity is an independent, but modifiable, risk factor for cancer.”

Kirsten Moysich

The findings were especially significant because current data indicates that most Americans are not physically active enough, according to Kirsten Moysich, PhD, MS, distinguished professor of oncology at Roswell Park.

“The link between physical inactivity and cancer was consistently found [among] both men and women, normal-weight and overweight individuals, and among both smokers and nonsmokers,” Moysich said. “Our findings strongly suggest that physical activity should be actively encouraged as part of a multidisciplinary cancer care, survivorship and prevention program.” – by Andy Polhamus

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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