Physical activity and obesity in Canadian cancer survivors: population-based estimates from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey

Cancer. 2008 Jun;112(11):2475-82. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23455.


Background: Physical inactivity and obesity are associated with poorer disease outcomes in several cancer survivor groups. Few studies, however, have provided population-based estimates of these risk factors in cancer survivors and compared them with individuals without a history of cancer. Here such estimates for the Canadian population are reported.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey consisting of computer-assisted interviews of 114,355 adults representing an estimated 23,285,548 Canadians. Participants self-reported their cancer history, height, and body weight to calculate body mass index and participation in various leisure-time activities.

Results: Fewer than 22% of Canadian cancer survivors were physically active and over 18% were obese. Few differences were observed between cancer survivors and those without a history of cancer except that: 1) prostate cancer survivors were more likely to be active (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01-1.59) and less likely to be obese (adjusted OR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.56-0.90); 2) skin cancer survivors (nonmelanoma and melanoma) were more likely to be active (adjusted OR = 1.33; 95% CI = 1.12-1.59); and 3) obese breast cancer survivors were less likely to be active compared with obese women without a history of cancer (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.27-0.94).

Conclusions: Canadian cancer survivors have low levels of physical activity and a high prevalence of obesity that, although comparable to the general population, may place them at higher risk for poorer disease outcomes. Population-based interventions to increase physical activity and promote a healthy body weight in Canadian cancer survivors are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors*