Public Release: 

Lifetime intense physical activity may lower risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Prior studies show physical activity reduces risk for colon cancer and breast cancer

American Association for Cancer Research

Bottom Line: Performing vigorous physical activity over one's lifetime may lower risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Journal in Which the Study was Published: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Author: Terry Boyle, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cancer Control Research at the B.C. Cancer Agency and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia in Canada

Background: Because not much is known about what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, identifying risk factors is particularly important for the prevention and control of this cancer, according to Boyle. There is evidence that people who are physically active have a lower risk of some cancers such as colon and breast cancers, but not many studies have investigated whether being physical active is associated with the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. How the Study Was Conducted: Boyle and colleagues used data from a case-control study conducted between 2000 and 2004 in British Columbia (BC), which recruited 820 NHL patients (59 percent men) of various ages from the B.C. Cancer Registry and 848 randomly selected controls matched for age, gender, and residential location, from the Client Registry of the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

Information on demographics and various risk factors for NHL, including lifetime recreational physical activity, was collected using a questionnaire. Participants were asked to record the average number of days per week and average number of hours per day they performed mild, moderate, or vigorous physical activity for each decade of life.

The researchers assigned a metabolic-equivalent (MET) value to the different types of physical activity, and calculated the average number of MET-hours per week of physical activity for each participant's lifetime, taking into account both the duration and intensity of physical activity.

Results: Study participants who were in the higher (second, third, and fourth) quartiles of vigorously intense physical activity performance in their lifetimes had about 25 percent to 30 percent lower risk for NHL, compared with those who were in the lowest (first) quartile of vigorously intense physical activity. Physical activity was not associated with greater benefit for any specific age group.

Author Comment: In an interview, Boyle said, "In this case-control study, we found that the most physically active participants had a lower risk for NHL than the least active participants. We found that vigorous-intensity physical activity in particular, such as activities that increase breathing and heart rates to a high level, was the most effective at lowering risk. We know that being physically active reduces the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer, and also leads to a range of other physical and mental health benefits. Our findings suggest that people who do vigorous physical activity may also have a lower risk for NHL. Currently, there isn't enough research on this topic to be able to confidently say that being physically active reduces the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, so we are planning to pool data from several studies to investigate this topic further. We know that different types of NHL may have different risk factors, so we are also planning to investigate whether physical activity influences the risk for different types of NHL in different ways."

###

Funding & Disclosures: This study was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Boyle is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the Killam Trust, and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. Boyle declares no conflicts of interest.

Follow us: Cancer Research Catalyst http://blog.aacr.org; Twitter @AACR; and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/aacr.org

About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 101 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 25 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with almost 19,300 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit http://www.AACR.org.

To interview Terry Boyle, please contact Jenn Currie at jenn.currie@bccancer.bc.ca or 604-675-8106. For other inquiries, contact Lauren Riley at lauren.riley@aacr.org or 215-446-7155.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.