Physical activity and colon cancer

Eur J Cancer Prev. 1994 Sep;3(5):393-8. doi: 10.1097/00008469-199409000-00002.


Heart disease and cancer, the major causes of mortality and morbidity in Western countries, have common risk factors. Exercise appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but its role with respect to primary prevention of cancer has not been emphasized. Here we evaluate the epidemiological studies dealing with exercise and colon cancer. Despite the fact that different methods of assessing the amount of typical exercise of individuals and the different types of physical activity measured (occupational and recreational), there is remarkably consistent evidence that people who are highly physically active could be at a reduced risk of cancer of the colon. An analysis of case-control and cohort studies suggests that exercise might reduce the risk, at least in men, by up to one-third. We conclude that exercise has been overlooked as a potentially useful, effective, and acceptable method for reducing the risk of colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Occupations
  • Recreation
  • Risk Factors