Physical activity and the risk of colon cancer among women: a prospective cohort study (United States)

Int J Cancer. 2006 Jul 15;119(2):385-91. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21840.


Physical activity has frequently been reported to decrease the risk of colon cancer in men, but data on the relation of physical activity to colon cancer risk in women have generally been less consistent. To further investigate the relationship of physical activity with colon cancer risk in women, we studied a cohort of 31,783 US women participating in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project Follow-up Study. Information on daily physical activity over the past year was ascertained using a self-administered questionnaire at study baseline. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate relative risks (RRs) relating physical activity to the risk of incident colon cancer. During 270,325 person-years of follow-up, 243 colon cancer cases were identified. No association was observed between physical activity and the subsequent risk of colon cancer. The multivariable RRs of colon cancer across increasing quintiles of total physical activity were 1.0, 1.45, 1.16, 1.27 and 1.15 (95% CI: 0.76, 1.75; p(trend) = 0.77). The multivariable RRs comparing women at the extremes of moderate and vigorous physical activity, respectively, were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.70, 1.62) and 1.10 (95% CI: 0.78, 1.55). The relationship between physical activity and colon cancer risk did not vary by anatomic subsite or across subgroups defined by age, body mass, dietary fiber intake, menopausal status, menopausal hormone use or aspirin use. The results of this large prospective cohort study among women do not support the hypothesis that physical activity is related to a lower incidence of colon cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology