Purpose: Increased physical activity (PA) is associated with a reduced risk of several cancers. PA may reduce cancer risk by changing endogenous hormones levels, but relatively little research has focused on this topic. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relation between PA and endogenous hormone concentrations.
Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of 798 pre- and 1,360 post-menopausal women included as controls in case-control studies on endogenous hormones (steroids, progesterone, sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and growth factors) levels, and cancer risk nested within European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort was performed. Multivariate regression analyses were performed to compare geometric mean levels of hormones and SHBG by categories of PA.
Results: In pre-menopausal women, active women had 19 % significantly lower concentrations of androstenedione, 14 % lower testosterone, and 20 % lower free testosterone than inactive women, while no differences were observed for estrogens, progesterone, SHBG, and growth factors. In post-menopausal women, active women had 18 % significantly lower estradiol and 20 % lower free estradiol concentrations than inactive women, while no differences were observed for the other hormones and SHBG. More vigorous forms of physical activity were associated with higher insulin-like growth factor-I concentrations. Adjustment for body mass index did not alter the associations. Overall, the percentage of variance in hormone concentrations explained by PA levels was <2 %.
Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis of an influence, although small in magnitude, of PA on sex hormone levels in blood, independent of body size.