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, 8 (5), 457-462

Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Cancer in Women: A Prospective Pilot Study


Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Cancer in Women: A Prospective Pilot Study

Baruch Vainshelboim et al. J Sport Health Sci.


Purpose: To assess the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and the incidence and mortality from cancer in women, and to evaluate the potential public health implications for cancer prevention.

Methods: Maximal exercise testing was performed in a pilot cohort of 184 women (59.3 ± 15.2 years) who were followed for 12.0 ± 6.9 years. Cox hazard models adjusted for established cancer risk factors and accounting for competing events were analyzed for all-type cancer incidence and mortality from cancer. Population-attributable risks and exposure impact number were determined for low CRF (<5 metabolic equivalents (METs)) as a risk factor.

Results: During the follow-up, 11.4% of the participants were diagnosed with cancer and 3.2% died from cancer. CRF was inversely and independently associated with cancer outcomes. For every 1-metabolic equivalent increase in CRF, there was a 20% decrease in the risk of cancer incidence (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.69-0.92; p = 0.001) and a 26% reduction in risk of cancer mortality (HR = 0.74, 95%CI: 0.61-0.90; p = 0.002). The population-attributable risks of low CRF were 11.6% and 14% for incidence and mortality of cancer, respectively, and the respective exposure impact numbers were 8 and 20.

Conclusion: Greater CRF was independently associated with a lower risk of incidence and mortality from cancer in women. Screening for low CRF as a cancer risk factor and referring unfit individuals to a supervised exercise program could be a public health strategy for cancer prevention in middle-age women.

Keywords: Exercise capacity; Exercise testing; Fitness; Public health.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1
Kaplan–Meier curves of cardiorespiratory fitness categories and cancer mortality in women. MET = metabolic equivalent.

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