Background: Physical activity is associated with lower risk for endometrial cancer, but the extent to which the association is mediated by body mass index (BMI) in midlife is unclear. This study describes the physical activity-endometrial cancer association and whether BMI mediates this relationship. Methods: Participants were 67 705 women in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study (50-71 years) who recalled their physical activity patterns starting at age 15-18 years. We identified 5 long-term physical activity patterns between adolescence and cohort entry (ie, inactive, maintained low, maintained high, increasers, decreasers). We used Cox regression to assess the relationship between these patterns and midlife BMI and endometrial cancer, adjusting for covariates. Mediation analysis was used to estimate the proportion of the physical activity-endometrial cancer association that was mediated by midlife BMI. Results: During an average 12.4 years of follow-up 1468 endometrial cancers occurred. Compared with long-term inactive women, women who maintained high or increased activity levels had a 19% to 26% lower risk for endometrial cancer (maintained high activity: hazard ratio = 0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.67 to 0.98; increasers: hazard ratio = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.61 to 0.91). They also had a 50% to 77% lower risk for obesity in midlife (eg, maintained high activity: odds ratio for a BMI of 30-39.9 kg/m2= 0.50, 95% CI = 0.46 to 0.55; and maintained high activity, odds ratio for a BMI of 40≥kg/m2= 0.32, 95% CI = 0.26 to 0.39). BMI was a statistically significant mediator accounting for 55.5% to 62.7% of the physical activity-endometrial cancer associations observed. Conclusions: Both maintaining physical activity throughout adulthood and adopting activity later in adulthood can play a role in preventing obesity and lowering the risk for endometrial cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research