Physical activity, obesity and sedentary behaviour and the risks of colon and rectal cancers in the 45 and up study

Carlos Nunez*, Visalini Nair-Shalliker, Sam Egger, Freddy Sitas, Adrian Bauman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)
    42 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Obesity and physical activity (PA) are predictors of colon (CC) and rectal (RC) cancers. Prolonged sitting is also emerging as a potential predictor for these cancers. Little knowledge exists about the interactive effects of obesity, PA and prolonged sitting on cancer risk. This analysis assessed independent and interactive effects of PA, body mass index (BMI) and sitting time on CC and RC risks. Methods: This analysis used data from a prospective study of 226,584 participants aged 45 years and over in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, who joined the 45 and Up study between 2006 and 2009. Baseline data were linked with data relating to mortality, cancer registration, hospital admission and Department of Human Services to December 2010. Multivariable Cox regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (referred to as relative risks, RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (Cis). Statistical significance was defined as p < 0.05. Results: There were 846 and 369 ascertained cases of CC and RC. BMI was positively associated with CC risk (p = 0.003, P-trend = 0.0006) but not with RC. CC risk was increased in participants in the highest BMI quartile (≥29.4-≤50 kg/m2) compared to the lowest (15- < 23.6 kg/m2), (RR = 1.32, 95% CI:1.08-1.63). PA was associated with CC risk (p = 0.02) but not with RC. Specifically, CC risk was lower in individuals partaking in any amount of vigorous activity (time/week) compared to participants with no engagement (RR = 0.78, 95% CI:0.65-0.93). Sitting time was not associated with CC or RC. We found no evidence of interactive effects of PA, BMI and prolonged sitting on cancer risk. Conclusion: This evidence suggests that a healthy weight and vigorous activity are essential to reduce CC risk since these factors may be independent of each other.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number325
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Colorectal cancer
    • Obesity
    • Physical activity
    • Prospective study
    • Sedentary behaviour
    • TIME
    • WOMEN
    • MEN
    • COHORT


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