Physical Activity Decreases Risk:Pancreatic Ca

Physical Activity May Decrease Risk Of Pancreatic Cancer

October 10, 2001

WESTPORT (Reuters Health) - Canadian researchers have identified a protective relationship between physical activity and pancreatic cancer risk in men. They point out that the findings support the hypothesis that insulin resistance is an etiologic factor in pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Anthony J. G. Hanley, of Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues examined the risk of pancreatic cancer associated with anthropometric factors and physical activity. They conducted a population-based study comparing 312 patients with pancreatic cancer with 2919 controls.

Men in the highest quartile of moderate and strenuous physical activity combined had a decreased risk of developing pancreatic cancer after adjustment for anthropometric and lifestyle factors (odds ratio 0.53). No such association was identified in women, but a tendency for reduced risk with increasing strenuous activity was observed, the researchers report in the October 1st issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

They note that the results contradict data from six previous studies. Possible explanations, they say, are that many of these studies involved nonrepresentative groups such as longshoremen and professional baseball players, and most measured only occupational activity.

Confirming previous studies, the investigators observed a twofold increased risk of pancreatic cancer among men in the highest quartile of body mass index 2 years prior to interview, as well as in those with a lifetime body mass index of at least 30.5.

Similarly, weight loss was protective. Weight loss of at least 2.9% in men or 12.5% in women from maximum lifetime weight significantly reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer compared with subjects reporting no weight loss or a smaller change.

"It appears reasonable to suggest," Dr. Hanley and his associates say, "that low levels of physical activity over the long term might result in insulin resistance and the consequent chronic exposure of the exocrine pancreas to high levels of insulin, which has been shown to have a promoting effect on pancreatic cancer in vitro."

Int J Cancer 2001;94:140-147.

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