Leisure-time physical activity beneficial for primary cancer prevention in older adults
Performing leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), even at lower levels than recommended, may help protect against cancer in elderly individuals, as reported in a study.
The analysis comprised a random sample of 1,542 Israeli community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years (median, 73 years; 53.6 percent female). Based on self-reported LTPA habits, 458 participants (29.7 percent) were classified as sufficiently active, 443 (28.7 percent) insufficiently active and 641 (41.6 percent) inactive according to published guidelines.
Compared with insufficiently and sufficiently active participants, those who were inactive were more likely to be female, of lower socioeconomic status, and with higher body mass index and poorer perceived health.
Over a median follow-up of 9 years, 254 participants (16.5 percent) developed cancer, of which 71 were diagnosed in the first 2 years of follow-up. The most common cancers were breast (13.0 percent), lung (11.8 percent), colon (9.8 percent) and prostate (9.1 percent). In addition, a total of 370 participants died during follow-up with no preceding cancer diagnosis.
Multivariable Cox proportional hazard analysis revealed that relative to inactivity, engaging in LTPA was inversely associated with incident cancer (ptrend=0.002). Specifically, the risk of developing cancer was lower by 34 percent among participants who were insufficiently active (hazard ratio [HR], 0.66, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.46–0.93) and by 41 percent among those who were sufficiently active (HR, 0.59, 95 percent CI, 0.42–0.82).
The findings underscore the potential role of physical activity in primary prevention of cancer among elderly individuals, researchers said.