A half-hour of weekly exercise can reduce a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, according to a study from scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
“To our knowledge, this is the first U.S.-based study looking at the associations between physical inactivity and cervical cancer,” said Dr. J. Brian Szender, lead author of the study and a fellow in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Roswell Park. “Our findings suggest that abstinence from regular physical activity is associated with increased odds of cervical cancer.”
The study included 128 patients diagnosed with cervical cancer and 512 women suspected of having cancer but ultimately not diagnosed with the disease. Physical inactivity was defined as having engaged in fewer than four sessions of physical activity per month. The reported rates of physical inactivity were 31.1 percent for women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 26.1 percent among the control group. The difference in risk remained present even after accounting for potential differences in smoking, alcohol intake, family history of cervical cancer and body mass index.
The findings show that women who reported that they did not engage in any physical activity were 2½ times more likely to develop cervical cancer when compared to women who reported that they exercise, Szender said.
“We think that this study sends a powerful public health message: that a complete lack of exercise is associated with the greater likelihood of developing a serious disease. Our findings show that any amount of exercise can reduce cervical cancer risk,” said Kirsten Moysich, senior author of the study and distinguished professor of oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell. “In addition to smoking cessation and undergoing regular screening, we have identified another important modifiable risk factor for this disease.”