Any Amount of Exercise Can Help To Prevent Cervical Cancer
A new study suggests that limited or no physical activity can increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates for cervical cancer in the U.S. for 2016:
• About 12,990 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed
• About 4120 women will die from cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death among women. Over the last 30 years, the death rate has gone down by about 50%, thanks to the Pap test. The Pap test helps to find changes in the cervix before cancer occurs.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
• Having HPV (human papilloma virus)
• Chlamydia infection
• Diet low in fruits and vegetables
• Being overweight
• Long term use of oral contraception (birth control pills)
• Use of an intrauterine device
• Having multiple full-term pregnancies
• Being younger than 17 at first full-term pregnancy
• Family history of cervical cancer
• Being the daughter of a woman who took DES (diethylstilbestrol)
The new study published in the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease suggests that women who don’t engage in any moderate to vigorous exercise may be at more than twice the risk of developing cervical cancer, compared to women who engage in at least four recreational exercise sessions per month.
Data was gathered from the Patient Epidemiology Data System (PEDS), a patient questionnaire administered within six months of a cervical cancer diagnosis. Physical inactivity was defined as fewer than four sessions (30 minutes each) per month. This study only included Caucasian women.
The data in the study revealed that compared to 512 age-matched women who did not have cervical cancer, women with the disease had significantly greater odds of reporting no exercise activity in the previous twenty years before diagnosis.” The researchers also controlled for smoking, alcohol intake, family history of cervical cancer and BMI (body mass index).
Many studies have indicated the impact of regular exercise including (positive) changes in sex hormone levels, decreased BMI, decreased insulin levels, altered inflammatory pathways, and improved immune function. The researchers admit to possible biases in the questionnaires, however, they also point to other studies that link physical inactivity and risk of solid tumors in women. A PubMed study identified mild obesity, physical inactivity and certain other risk factors for cervical cancer. An Australian study linked sitting time and physical inactivity with increased risk of cervical neoplasia.