Objective: In order to prospectively investigate physical activity at varying intensities and sedentary behavior in relation to colorectal cancer.
Methods: We considered 488,720 participants of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study who were aged 50-71 years at baseline in 1995-1996. Through 31 December, 2003, we identified 3,240 and 1,482 colorectal cancers among men and women, respectively. We estimated multivariable relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of colorectal cancer using Cox regression.
Results: Engaging in exercise/sports five or more times per week compared to never or rarely exercising was associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer among men (p = 0.001; RR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.68-0.91) and a suggestive decrease in risk among women (p = 0.376; RR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.70-1.04). Engaging in exercise/sports was also associated with a decreased risk of rectal cancer in men (P = 0.074; RR comparing extreme categories = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.61-0.94). In men, we observed inverse relations of both low intensity (p = 0.017; RR = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.65-1.00 for > or =7 h/week) and moderate to vigorous intensity activity (p = 0.037; RR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.67-0.99 for > or =7 h/week) to colon cancer risk. In contrast, sedentary behavior (time spent watching television/videos) was positively associated with colon cancer (p < 0.001; RR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.14-2.27 for > or =9 h/day) among men. Similar, but less pronounced relations were observed in women.
Conclusion: Engaging in physical activity of any intensity is associated with reductions in colon and rectal cancer risk. Conversely, time spent sedentary is associated with increased colon cancer risk.