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Cancer. 2008 Jun;112(11):2475-82. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23455.

Physical activity and obesity in Canadian cancer survivors: population-based estimates from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.

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Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



Physical inactivity and obesity are associated with poorer disease outcomes in several cancer survivor groups. Few studies, however, have provided population-based estimates of these risk factors in cancer survivors and compared them with individuals without a history of cancer. Here such estimates for the Canadian population are reported.


Data were obtained from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey consisting of computer-assisted interviews of 114,355 adults representing an estimated 23,285,548 Canadians. Participants self-reported their cancer history, height, and body weight to calculate body mass index and participation in various leisure-time activities.


Fewer than 22% of Canadian cancer survivors were physically active and over 18% were obese. Few differences were observed between cancer survivors and those without a history of cancer except that: 1) prostate cancer survivors were more likely to be active (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01-1.59) and less likely to be obese (adjusted OR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.56-0.90); 2) skin cancer survivors (nonmelanoma and melanoma) were more likely to be active (adjusted OR = 1.33; 95% CI = 1.12-1.59); and 3) obese breast cancer survivors were less likely to be active compared with obese women without a history of cancer (adjusted OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.27-0.94).


Canadian cancer survivors have low levels of physical activity and a high prevalence of obesity that, although comparable to the general population, may place them at higher risk for poorer disease outcomes. Population-based interventions to increase physical activity and promote a healthy body weight in Canadian cancer survivors are warranted.

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