Women who regularly exercise may have a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to the results of a recent study conducted in southern China.
The study, published in the July 2013 supplement to Preventive Medicine, enrolled 500 women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer no more than 12 months prior to the start of the study and 500 controls from 2006 to 2008. All participants were interviewed face-to-face and were asked to report the average number of hours they typically spent engaging in strenuous sports, vigorous work, and moderate activity each day for the 5 years prior to their cancer diagnosis. The researchers then classified the intensity of reported activities based on the amount of energy or effort needed to complete the activity, calculating their total metabolic equivalent tasks-hours per week.
Ovarian cancer patients reported significantly shorter durations of strenuous sports and moderate activity in daily life than those without cancer. Participants who engaged in at least 23 metabolic equivalent tasks-hours per week of total physical activity had a 50% reduced risk for developing ovarian cancer compared with those who engaged in less than 12 metabolic equivalent tasks-hours per week.
“Leisure time exercise activities should be further promoted and encouraged among women because of the potential benefit in ovarian cancer prevention,” the authors write.