The Effect of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Obesity on Cancer Mortality in Women and Men

EVENSON, KELLY R.1; STEVENS, JUNE1 2; CAI, JIANWEN3; THOMAS, RATNA3; THOMAS, OLIVIA2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology
Abstract

EVENSON, K. R., J. STEVENS, J. CAI, R. THOMAS, and O. THOMAS. The Effect of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Obesity on Cancer Mortality in Women and Men. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 270–277, 2003.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the independent and combined effects of cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity on all-cause cancer mortality for women and men.

Methods: Using the Lipids Research Clinics Prevalence Study, we examined the relationship of fitness and obesity on cancer mortality among 2585 women and 2890 men followed from 1972–1976 to 1998. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using a treadmill test and obesity was assessed using body mass index (BMI) calculated from measured height and weight. Gender-specific hazard ratios (HR) were calculated from proportional hazard models, which included covariates for age, education, smoking, alcohol intake, Keys score, and menopause (women only).

Results: Adjusted cancer mortality was significantly lower in the most fit quintile relative to the other four quintiles for men (HR = 0.47; 95% CI, 0.27–0.81) but not for women (HR = 0.84; 95% CI, 0.52–1.36). Adjusted cancer mortality was significantly higher in the highest BMI quintile relative to the other four BMI quintiles for women (HR = 1.49; 95% CI, 1.06–2.09) but not for men (HR = 1.05; 95% CI, 0.77–1.43). Further adjustment for BMI on fitness and adjustment for fitness on BMI did not meaningfully change the HR. There were no significant interactions between fitness and obesity in predicting cancer mortality for either women or men.

Conclusion: In this study, high fitness was a stronger predictor of cancer mortality in men, whereas high BMI was a stronger predictor of cancer mortality in women.

Author Information

1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC;

2Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; and

3Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Address for correspondence: Kelly Evenson, University of NC-Chapel Hill, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Bank of America Center, 137 East Franklin Street, Suite 306, Chapel Hill, NC 27514; E-mail: kelly_evenson@unc.edu.

Submitted for publication April 2002.

Accepted for publication October 2002.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine