The association between physical activity and renal cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Cancer. 2013 Mar 5;108(4):798-811. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.37. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Background: Physical activity may decrease renal cancer risk by reducing obesity, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and lipid peroxidation. Despite plausible biologic mechanisms linking increased physical activity to decreased risk for renal cancer, few epidemiologic studies have been able to report a clear inverse association between physical activity and renal cancer, and no meta-analysis is available on the topic.

Methods: We searched the literature using PubMed and Web of Knowledge to identify published non-ecologic epidemiologic studies quantifying the relationship between physical activity and renal cancer risk in individuals without a cancer history. Following the PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis, including information from 19 studies based on a total of 2 327 322 subjects and 10 756 cases. The methodologic quality of the studies was examined using a comprehensive scoring system.

Results: Comparing high vs low levels of physical activity, we observed an inverse association between physical activity and renal cancer risk (summary relative risk (RR) from random-effects meta-analysis=0.88; 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.79-0.97). Summarising risk estimates from high-quality studies strengthened the inverse association between physical activity and renal cancer risk (RR=0.78; 95% CI=0.66-0.92). Effect modification by adiposity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, smoking, gender, or geographic region was not observed.

Conclusion: Our comprehensive meta-analysis provides strong support for an inverse relation of physical activity to renal cancer risk. Future high-quality studies are required to discern which specific types, intensities, frequencies, and durations of physical activity are needed for renal cancer risk reduction.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior