Engaging in physical exercise as a teenager can help to lower the risk of death due to cancer and other diseases in later life, researchers recently found. Clarfying long-term impacts of modifiable lifestyle factors like exercise in adolescence is of key importance, and could have significant public health implications for disease prevention over the course of life, said lead author Sarah J. Nechuta.
Nechuta and her colleagues analyzed data from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, a large, population-based prospective cohort study of about 75,000 women ages 40 to 70, from Shanghai, China, led by Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center.
The study contains detailed information on participants reported at baseline recruitment, including self-reported exercise participation between the ages of 13 and 19, adult lifestyle-related factors, and mortality outcomes. In-person interviews were conducted to collect baseline data and follow-up data every two to three years.
16% Lower Risk
After an average of 12.9 years of follow-up, there were 5,282 deaths, including 2,375 from cancer and 1,620 from cardiovascular disease.
Adjusted for socioeconomic factors in adult life, the researchers discovered that women who took part in exercise as adolescents for 1.33 hours a week or less had a 16 percent lowered risk for death from cancer, and a 15 percent lowered risk for death from all causes.
Those who participated in exercise as adolescents for more than 1.33 hours a week had a 13 percent lowered risk for death from all causes.
Nechuta, in an interview, stated:
Adjusting for socioeconomic factors in adult life, women who participated in team sports as adolescents had a 14 percent lowered risk for death from cancer, and a 10 percent lowered risk for death from all causes.
Women who participated in exercise both in their adolescent and adult lives had a 20 percent lowered risk for death from all causes.
Sarah J. Nechuta, Xiao Ou Shu, Gong Yang, Hui Cai, Yu-Tang Gao, Hong-Lan Li, Yong-Bing Xiang, and Wei Zheng Adolescent Exercise in Association with Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer among Middle-Aged and Older Chinese Women Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev Published OnlineFirst July 31, 2015; doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0253
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