Physical activity, anthropometric factors and risk of pancreatic cancer: results from the Canadian enhanced cancer surveillance system

Int J Cancer. 2001 Oct 1;94(1):140-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.1446.


To explore the hypothesis that insulin resistance may be an etiologic factor in pancreatic cancer, we assessed the pancreatic cancer risk associated with anthropometric factors and physical activity, both of which are important determinants of insulin sensitivity in humans. Three hundred and twelve patients with histologically confirmed pancreatic cancer were compared to 2,919 controls in a population-based, case-control study in 7 of the 10 Canadian provinces. Participants were asked to report their exposure status for the period 2 years before interview. Men in the highest quartile of body mass index (BMI, > or =28.3 kg/m(2)) were at increased risk of pancreatic cancer [adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-3.35]. In addition, men who reported a decrease in weight of at least 2.9% from their lifetime maximum were at reduced risk compared to those reporting a < or =2.9% loss (> or =10.2% loss, OR = 0.51, 95% CI 0.30-0.86). BMI 2 years before interview was not associated with pancreatic cancer risk among women, though those reporting a > or =12.5% decrease in weight from their lifetime maximum had substantially lower risk compared to those in the baseline quartile (OR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.29-0.99). After adjustment for age, province of residence, dietary intake and anthropometric factors, men in the highest quartile of the composite moderate and strenuous physical activity index were at reduced risk of pancreatic cancer (OR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.31-0.90). Physical activity did not appear to be associated with pancreatic cancer among women, though a tendency for reduced risk with increasing levels of strenuous activity was suggested (p for trend = 0.06). Our findings support the hypothesis that insulin resistance is an etiologic factor in the development of pancreatic neoplasms among men and possibly women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Menarche
  • Obesity / complications
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors