Physical activity and risk of cancer in middle-aged men

Br J Cancer. 2001 Nov 2;85(9):1311-6. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.2096.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Recreation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sports
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / etiology