, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 225-231
Date: 02 Oct 2008

The impact of physical activity on all-cause mortality in men and women after a cancer diagnosis

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Abstract

Objective

Existing information regarding the impact of physical activity after a cancer diagnosis on all-cause mortality is limited. We examined the association between different types of physical activity (domestic, walking, sports) and mortality in 293 participants (65.5% women) with a cancer registration prior to the baseline assessment.

Methods

Participants were drawn from the Scottish Health Surveys (1995, 1998, 2003) that were linked to a national database of cancer registrations and deaths. The main outcome was all-cause mortality during a mean follow-up period of 5.9 ± 3.2 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the risk of all-cause mortality by levels of physical activity.

Results

There were 78 deaths during follow-up. The lowest risks for all-cause mortality were seen in sports activity groups [multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for any compared with groups of no sports: 0.47, 95% CI 0.23–0.96, p = 0.039] although light and moderate activity such as domestic activity (HR = 1.04, 0.60–1.80) and regular walking (HR = 0.95, 0.57–1.56) did not confer protection.

Conclusion

Participation in an average of more than three sessions of vigorous exercise per week for at least 20 min/session was associated with the lowest risks of all-cause mortality following a cancer diagnosis. Vigorous physical activity could therefore be a more important determinant of survival than duration or total volume of exercise in cancer survivors.