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Leisure-Time Physical Activity Lowers the Risk of 13 Types of Cancer

Key Message

Leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of many cancer types, regardless of body size or smoking history. 


Moore, Steven C. et al. (2016). Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online May 16, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548


This study aims to determine the association of leisure-time physical activity with incidence of common types of cancer and whether associations vary by body size and/or smoking.


A total of 1.44 million participants (median [range] age, 59 [19-98] years; 57% female) and 186 932 cancers were included. High vs low levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with lower risks of 13 cancers:

  1. Esophageal cancer, a 42 percent lower risk
  2. Liver cancer, a 27 percent lower risk
  3. Lung cancer, a 26 percent lower risk
  4. Kidney cancer, a 23 percent lower risk
  5. Stomach cancer of the cardia (top portion of the stomach), a 22 percent lower risk
  6. Endometrial cancer, a 21 percent lower risk
  7. Myeloid leukemia, a 20 percent lower risk
  8. Myeloma, a 17 percent lower risk
  9. Colon cancer, a 16 percent lower risk
  10. Head and neck cancer, a 15 percent lower risk
  11. Rectal cancer, a 13 percent lower risk
  12. Bladder cancer, a 13 percent lower risk
  13. Breast cancer, a 10 percent lower risk

Body mass index adjustment modestly attenuated associations for several cancers, but 10 of 13 inverse associations remained statistically significant after this adjustment. Associations were generally similar between overweight/obese and normal-weight individuals. Smoking status modified the association for lung cancer but not other smoking-related cancers.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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