Dietary preference, physical activity, and cancer risk in men: national health insurance corporation study

BMC Cancer. 2008 Dec 11:8:366. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-8-366.


Background: The effects of vegetable preference and leisure-time physical activity (LPA) on cancer have been inconsistent. We examined the effects of dietary preference and physical activity, as well as their combined effect on cancer risk.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included 444,963 men, older than 40 years, who participated in a national health examination program begun in 1996. Based on the answer to the question "What kind of dietary preference do you have?" we categorized dietary preference as (1) vegetables, (2) mixture of vegetables and meat, and (3) meats. We categorized LPA as low (< 4 times/wk, < 30 min/session), moderate (2-4 times/wk, > or = 30 min/session or > or = 5 times/wk, < 30 min/session), or high (> or = 5 times/wk, > or = 30 min/session). We obtained cancer incidence data for 1996 through 2002 from the Korean Central Cancer Registry. We used a standard Poisson regression model with a log link function and person-time offset to estimate incidence and relative risk..

Results: During the 6-year follow-up period, we identified 14,109 cancer cases. Multivariate analysis revealed that a preference for vegetables or a mixture of vegetables and meat as opposed to a preference for meat played a significant protective role against lung cancer incidence (aRR, 0.81; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.98). Compared with the low LPA group, subjects with moderate-high LPA had a significantly lower risk for stomach (aRR, 0.91; 95%CI, 0.86-0.98), lung (aRR, 0.83; 95%CI, 0.75-0.92), and liver (aRR, 0.88; 95%CI, 0.81-0.95) cancer. Among current smokers, the combined moderate-high LPA and vegetable or mixture of vegetables and meat preference group showed a 40% reduced risk of lung cancer (aRR, 0.60; 95%CI, 0.47-0.76) compared with the combined low LPA and meat preference group. Among never/former smokers, subjects with moderate-high LPA and a preference for vegetables or a mixture of vegetables and meat showed reduced stomach cancer risk (aRR, 0.72; 95%CI, 0.54-0.95).

Conclusion: Our findings add to the evidence of the beneficial effects of vegetable preference on lung cancer risk and of physical activity on lung, stomach, and liver cancer risk. Additionally, vegetable preference combined with LPA might significantly reduce lung and stomach cancer risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Vegetables