Cancer Causes & Control

, 20:225 | Cite as

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

  • Mark Hamer
  • Emmanuel Stamatakis
  • John M. Saxton
Original Paper



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.


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.


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.


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.


Exercise Cancer Mortality Survival Epidemiology 



The authors received grant funding from the British Heart Foundation, UK (MH), and the National Institute for Health Research, UK (ES). The Scottish Health Survey is funded by the Scottish Executive. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily of the funding bodies. We declare that the funders played no role in the concept and design of the study, analysis or interpretation of data, or drafting and critical revision of the manuscript.


All authors were responsible for the study concept and design, interpretation of data, and drafting and critical revision of the manuscript. ES was responsible for the acquisition of the data. Statistical analysis and preparation of the data was performed by MH and ES. All authors approved the final version of the article. MH is the guarantor.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Hamer
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Stamatakis
    • 1
  • John M. Saxton
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Sport and Exercise ScienceSheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK

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