A follow-up study of physical activity and incidence of colorectal polyps in African-American women

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Background: Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer, but the effect of activity on colorectal adenomas, which are precursors to colon cancer, is uncertain. The influence of physical activity on colorectal adenomas among African-American women is of particular interest because African-American women have an increased risk of colon cancer relative to other U.S. women. Methods: We prospectively assessed the relation of physical activity to the incidence of colorectal polyps among African-American women. We followed 45,400 women in the Black Women's Health Study from 1997 to 2003. Data were obtained by biennial mailed questionnaires. During 287,029 person-years of follow-up, 1,390 women reported having been diagnosed with colorectal polyps. A review of medical records of 58 women who reported colorectal polyps indicated that 59% had adenomas and 41% had hyperplastic polyps. We converted hours per week of vigorous exercise and hours per week of walking to metabolic equivalent (MET)-hours. We estimated incidence rate ratios with Cox proportional hazard models, controlling for age, body mass index, smoking, family history of colorectal cancer, and education. Results: For total MET-hours/wk spent in walking and vigorous exercise, the incidence rate ratio decreased from 0.94 for <5 MET-hours/wk to 0.72 for ≥40 MET-hours/wk (Ptrend = 0.01). The inverse association was apparent among most subgroups examined, including women who may be at higher risk of colorectal adenomas because of being obese. Conclusions: Increased physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of colorectal polyps among African-American women. Copyright © 2006 American Association for Cancer Research.

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