Physical activity and risk of colon cancer in a cohort of Danish middle-aged men and women

Eur J Epidemiol. 2006;21(12):877-84. doi: 10.1007/s10654-006-9076-z. Epub 2006 Dec 8.


Objective: To investigate the effects of occupational activity and leisure time activity on incident colon cancer risk in a Danish middle-aged population.

Methods: In the cohort, Diet, Cancer and Health, which included 28,356 women and 26,122 men aged 50-64 years at baseline, 140 women and 157 men were diagnosed with colon cancer from 1993 to 2003. The associations between occupational and leisure time activity in terms of a MET-score and the single activities, sports, cycling, walking, gardening, housework and do-it-yourself work, and incident colon cancer were investigated. Leisure time activity was investigated in two ways using the Cox proportional hazards model: by comparison of active versus non-active and by investigating a possible dose-response relationship while allowing a separate association for non-active individuals.

Results: No associations were found between risk of colon cancer and occupational activity, MET-hours per week of total leisure time activity, residuals from a regression of each activity on the total MET-hours or the time spent on any of the six types of leisure time activities. However, a borderline significant association was found with the number of activities in which the participants were active. For each additional activity IRR = 0.87 (0.76-1.00) for women and IRR = 0.88 (0.78-1.00) for men.

Conclusion: Our data do not support the evidence of an inverse association between colon cancer risk and occupational activity or leisure time activity, but avoiding a sedentary lifestyle by participating in different activities may reduce colon cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Recreation*
  • Risk
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Work*