Physical activity and risk of lung cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(7):3143-7. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2012.13.7.3143.


Background: Previous studies investigating the association of physical activity with risk of lung cancer reported conflicting results. In order to update and improve available evidence on any link, a meta-analysis was performed.

Method: We searched the PubMed database for prospective cohort studies investigating the relation of physical activity with risk of lung cancer. The pooled relative risk (RR) with its 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) was used to assess the association.

Results: We included 14 prospective studies with a total of 1,644,305 participants, with 14,074 incident lung cancer cases documented during follow-up. Meta-analysis of all 14 studies suggested both high and medium levels of physical activity to be associated with decreased risk of lung cancer compared to the reference group with low level of physical activity (for high level, RR = 0.77, 95%CI 0.73-0.81, P < 0.001; for medium level, RR = 0.87, 95%CI 0.83-0.90, P < 0.001). Subgroup analyses by gender found obvious associations in both men and women. No publication bias was observed.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that high and medium levels of physical activity have a beneficial effect on lung cancer by reducing the overall risk of tumour development among both men and women.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prospective Studies