Women who participate in moderate to strenuous activity have a reduced risk of endometrial cancer, say researchers.
Among the 93,888 women eligible in the US prospective cohort study, 976 were diagnosed with incident endometrial cancer between 1995 and 2007. The researchers used Cox proportional hazards regression methods to estimate relative risks for endometrial cancer associated with long-term (high school to 54 years of age) and baseline (three years prior to joining the cohort) strenuous and moderate recreational physical activity, overall and by body size. Moderate physical activity was defined as brisk walking, recreational tennis, golf, softball and volleyball. Strenuous physical activity included swimming laps, aerobics, running and jogging.
The median follow-up time was 12.1 years. The mean age at diagnosis was 66.9 years for the women diagnosed with endometrial cancer during follow-up and the median time to diagnosis was 5.8 years. Baseline strenuous recreational physical activity was inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk, with approximately 24% decrease in risk comparing participants with the highest activity levels to those with the lowest. Among the most active women with a BMI >25 relative to those with the least activity (<0.5 hours/week/year), risk was reduced by 39%. No other associations were observed when data was stratified by BMI.
What this means for GPs
The researchers note that their results ‘add to the growing epidemiologic evidence that physical activity may an important modifiable lifestyle factor affecting the risk of endometrial cancer’ and that ‘women with higher body weight may have an added benefit from regular participation in physical activity as a means to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer’.