Mechanisms linking physical activity with cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 Mar;8(3):205-11. doi: 10.1038/nrc2325.


About 25% of cancer cases globally are due to excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity may decrease risk for various cancers by several mechanisms, including decreasing sex hormones, metabolic hormones and inflammation, and improving immune function. The level of physical activity might also be associated with prognosis among individuals with cancer. Randomized clinical trials have shown that physical activity interventions can change biomarkers of cancer risk. Observational studies can also provide useful information on mechanisms that might link physical activity to cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hormones