46K US cancer cases per year linked to physical inactivity: 5 study findings

Between 2013-16, about 3 percent of all cancer cases in the U.S. among people ages 30 and older were linked to physical inactivity, a study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found. 

That translates to more than 46,356 cancer cases annually, according to the Oct. 4 findings. 

Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and the U.S. Cancer Statistics database to conduct the study. Optimal physical activity was defined as at least five hours of exercise per week. 

Four more findings: 

1. Number of cases linked to lack of physical activity was higher in women at 32,089 compared to 14,277 among men. 

2. Southern states including Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi had the highest proportion of cancers associated with a lack of physical inactivity for both men and women. 

3. Mountain region and northern states including Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Wisconsin had the lowest proportion of cancer cases linked to physical inactivity. 

4. Nearly 17 percent of stomach cancers were tied to a lack of exercise, followed by 11.9 percent of endometrial cancers, 11 percent of kidney cancers, 9.3 percent of colon cancers, 8.1 percent of esophageal cancers, 6.5 percent of female breast cancers, and 3.9 percent of urinary bladder cancers. 

"Our results indicate that promoting physical activity through broad implementation of interventions could prevent many cancer cases," the study said. "Over 46,000 cancer cases annually could be potentially avoided if the American population met the recommended five hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity."

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