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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Nov;19(11):2261-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.345. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Cardiorespiratory fitness, different measures of adiposity, and total cancer mortality in women.

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Research Department, The Cooper Institute, Dallas, Texas, USA.


The objective was to examine associations among cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), adiposity, and cancer mortality in women. Healthy women (N = 14,256) without cancer history completed a baseline health examination 1970-2005. Measures included BMI, percent body fat (%Fat), and CRF quantified as duration of a maximal treadmill test. CRF was classified as low (quintile 1), moderate (Q2-3), and high fit (Q4-5) by age. Standard BMI cutpoints were used, while participants were classified by %Fat quintiles. Cancer mortality rates were calculated following age, exam year, and smoking adjustment. During a mean follow-up period of 15.2 ± 9.4 years, 250 cancer deaths occurred. Adjusted mortality rates across BMI groups were 4.6, 5.7, and 8.8 (P trend 0.08); %Fat 3.0, 4.9, 2.9, 3.8, and 6.9 (P trend 0.17); and CRF 7.9, 5.5, and 2.9 (P trend 0.003). When grouped into categories of fit and unfit (upper 80% and lower 20% of CRF distribution), and using BMI as the adiposity exposure, cancer mortality rates of unfit-obese women were significantly higher than fit-normal weight women (9.8 vs. 4.1 deaths/10,000 woman-years; P = 0.02), while fit-overweight and fit-obese women had no greater risk of mortality than fit-normal weight women. Using %Fat as the adiposity exposure, unfit-obese women tended to have higher cancer mortality than fit-normal weight women (7.0 vs. 3.3 deaths/10,000 woman-years, P = 0.10). Higher levels of CRF are associated with lower cancer mortality risk in women and attenuate the risk of cancer mortality in overweight women. Using adiposity measures to estimate cancer mortality risk in women can be potentially misleading unless CRF is considered.

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