Regular vigorous physical activity reduced the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma by approximately 45%, according to recently published data.
“The distribution of HCC varies greatly according to geographic location and it is more common in low- and middle-income countries than in developed countries,” Sebastian E. Baumeister, PhD, from the University of Greifswald in Germany, and colleagues wrote. “The recent increase in HCC incidence is thought to be caused by increases in obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.”
Baumeister and colleagues gathered data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort to assess the relationship between physical activity and liver-related cancers. Of the 467,336 cohort participants, 275 developed HCC over a median follow-up of 14.9 years.
Participants who reported any physical activity were significantly less likely to develop HCC compared with those who indicated themselves ‘inactive’ (HR = 0.55; 95% CI, 0.39-0.8).
Those who reported more than 2 hours of vigorous activity per week were even less likely to develop HCC compared with those who reported no vigorous activity (HR = 0.5; 95% CI, 0.33-0.76).
The researchers also found that waist circumference correlated with 40% and BMI correlated with 30% of the overall association between total physical activity and HCC risk. Waist circumference mediated the total effect of vigorous physical activity on HCC by 17% and BMI by 12%.
According to Baumeister and colleagues, the mechanisms underlying the association between central obesity and HCC may occur through accumulation of excessive liver fat that increases pro-inflammatory molecules, leptin and adiponectin.
Additionally, the researchers found that the associations between physical activity and HCC did not differ substantially between subgroups based on sex, lifestyle or anthropometric variables.
“Studies with more detailed and objectively measured physical activity assessed at multiple time points throughout the life course are warranted to confirm our findings and may help establish the optimal dose, type, intensity, and timing of physical activity that is needed to prevent HCC,” Baumeister and colleagues wrote. – by Talitha Bennett
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.