Active lifestyle reduces risk of endometrial cancer


Even walking for transportation, housework provide benefit

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Women and teen-age girls have yet one more reason to become more physically active reduction of their risk of developing the most common gynecologic malignancy, endometrial cancer, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and its Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center report.

In a study presented at the 95th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers report that regular exercise as well as routine activities such as walking for transportation or performing household chores can reduce a woman's risk for endometrial cancer by as much as 30 percent-40 percent. "This adds to the growing body of literature indicating that high levels of physical activity are associated with reduced risk of some cancers, including endometrial cancer," said lead author Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt.

"We were particularly pleased to see the beneficial effects on risk of endometrial cancer associated not only with intentional exercise but also with more accessible, less expensive and lower intensity forms of activity, such as walking for transportation and doing household chores. Our results support the idea that cancer risk reduction can be achieved by maintaining an active lifestyle."

Matthews and his colleagues conducted in-person interviews with 832 women, ages 30-69, identified through the Shanghai Cancer Registry and diagnosed with cancer of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. (Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy, affecting more than 35,000 American women each year, according to the American Cancer Society).

For controls, 846 age-matched women who did not have endometrial cancer were randomly selected from a group of Shanghai residents.

Physical activity from intentional exercise as well as household chores and walking or cycling for transportation was assessed for adolescent period (ages 13-19) and in the 10 years before entering the study (adulthood). Lifetime occupational activity was also examined.

The research team also took into account major demographic factors or established endometrial cancer risk factors.

Their findings include:

  • Exercise participation in both adolescence and adulthood was associated with a 30 percent-40 percent reduction in endometrial cancer risk.
  • In analyses to evaluate the separate effects of exercise and lifestyle activity, women who reported no exercise but who had more active lifestyles through household chores and/or daily walking reduced their risk by about 40 percent. Similar benefit was evident for women with less active lifestyles but who were regular exercisers.
  • Endometrial cancer risk is increased for women with more body fat as measured by body mass index (or BMI). The study found that such increased risk was partially reduced for heavier women with higher levels of physical activity.

The researchers particularly noted the benefits derived from a broad range of daily activities on endometrial cancer risk. "Given the low prevalence of exercise participation among middle-aged and older women, these findings have important public health implications. They highlight the potential for both intentional exercise and lifestyle activities in reducing endometrial cancer risk."

Matthews' co-authors included Wei Zheng, Ph.D., and Xiao-Ou Shu, Ph.D., both of VUMC and VICC, and Wang-Hong Xu, Yu-Tang Gao, and Zhixian Ruan of the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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