Objective: The purpose was to examine the prospective relationship among cardiorespiratory fitness level (CRF), different measures of adiposity, and cancer mortality in men.
Research methods and procedures: Participants were 38,410 apparently healthy men who completed a comprehensive baseline health examination between 1970 and 2001. Clinical measures included BMI, waist circumference (WC), percent body fat, and CRF quantified as duration of a maximal treadmill exercise test. Participants were divided into fifths of CRF, BMI, WC, and percent body fat. Hazard ratios were computed with Cox regression analysis.
Results: During a mean follow-up period of 17.2 +/- 7.9 years, 1037 cancer deaths occurred. Adjusted hazard ratios across incremental BMI quintiles were 1.0, 1.23, 1.15, 1.39, and 1.72; those of WC were 1.0, 1.05, 1.03, 1.31, and 1.64; those of percent body fat were 1.0, 1.24, 1.17, 1.23, and 1.50; and those of CRF were 1.0, 0.70, 0.67, 0.70, and 0.49 (trend p < 0.01 for each). Further adjustment for CRF eliminated the significant trend in mortality risk across percent body fat groups and attenuated the trend in risk across BMI and WC groups. Adjustment of CRF for adiposity measures had little effect on mortality risk. When grouped into categories of fit and unfit (upper 80% and lower 20% of CRF distribution, respectively), mortality rates (per 10,000 man-years) were significantly lower in fit compared with unfit men within each stratum of BMI, WC, and percent body fat.
Discussion: Higher levels of CRF are associated with lower cancer mortality risk in men, independently of several adiposity measures.