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Sports 2015, 3(3), 145-158; doi:10.3390/sports3030145

Physical Activity and Gastrointestinal Cancers: Primary and Tertiary Preventive Effects and Possible Biological Mechanisms

Unit of Physical Activity, Exercise and Cancer, National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss
Received: 21 May 2015 / Revised: 16 July 2015 / Accepted: 16 July 2015 / Published: 21 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sports Medicine)
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Gastrointestinal cancers account for 37% of all cancer deaths worldwide, underlining the need to further investigate modifiable factors for gastrointestinal cancer risk and prognosis. This review summarizes the corresponding evidence for physical activity (PA), including, briefly, possible biological mechanisms. Despite high public health relevance, there is still a scarcity of studies, especially for tertiary prevention. Besides the convincing evidence of beneficial effects of PA on colon cancer risk, clear risk reduction for gastroesophageal cancer was identified, as well as weak indications for pancreatic cancer. Inverse associations were observed for liver cancer, yet based on few studies. Only for rectal cancer, PA appeared to be not associated with cancer risk. With regard to cancer-specific mortality of the general population, published data were rare but indicated suggestive evidence of protective effects for colon and liver cancer, and to a lesser extent for rectal and gastroesophageal cancer. Studies in cancer patients on cancer-specific and total mortality were published for colorectal cancer only, providing good evidence of inverse associations with post-diagnosis PA. Overall, evidence of associations of PA with gastrointestinal cancer risk and progression is promising but still limited. However, the already available knowledge further underlines the importance of PA to combat cancer. View Full-Text
Keywords: physical activity; gastrointestinal cancer; prevention; cancer risk; epidemiology physical activity; gastrointestinal cancer; prevention; cancer risk; epidemiology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Steindorf, K.; Clauss, D.; Wiskemann, J.; Schmidt, M.E. Physical Activity and Gastrointestinal Cancers: Primary and Tertiary Preventive Effects and Possible Biological Mechanisms. Sports 2015, 3, 145-158.

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