Physical activity in adolescence associated with decreased risk of brain cancer in adulthood

October 6, 2009
Physical activity in adolescence associated with decreased risk of brain cancer in adulthood
Christine B. Ambrosone, Ph.D., is a professor of oncology and chair of the department of cancer prevention and control at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Credit: Christine B. Ambrosone, Ph.D.

While little is known about the causes of glioma, researchers at the National Cancer Institute have found that this rare but often deadly form of brain cancer may be linked to early life physical activity and height.

"Our findings suggest that biological factors related to energy expenditure and growth during childhood may play a role in glioma etiology. This clue could help researchers better understand important features of glioma biology and the potentially modifiable lifestyle factors that could be important in preventing this disease," said Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., research fellow in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, NCI. Moore also added that "engaging in regular physical activity throughout the lifespan conveys many benefits." Results of this prospective study are published online first in Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Gliomas are the most common type of , accounting for nearly 80 percent of brain and central nervous system cancers. Though little is known about the causes of glioma, some evidence suggests that early life exposures may play a role in disease etiology. Because the brain develops rapidly during childhood and adolescence, it may be more susceptible to environmental influences during this time.

Moore and colleagues examined whether markers of early life energy expenditure and intake (physical activity, and height) are related to glioma risk. Between 1995 and 1996, researchers distributed a baseline questionnaire about dietary intake and other lifestyle exposures to participants in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Nearly 500,000 men and women answered questions about physical activity, body weight and height. The researchers then followed study participants for eight years, during which time 480 glioma cases occurred.

Participants who were physically active during adolescence had a decreased risk of glioma; their risk was about 36 percent lower than those who were inactive, according to the study. The researchers also found that those who were obese during adolescence had an increased risk of glioma; their risk was approximately three to four times that of individuals who were normal weight during adolescence. However, Moore cautioned that "we did not have many people in the study who were obese during adolescence." Moore and colleagues additionally confirmed results of previous studies linking height to increased glioma risk; risk among taller participants was twice that of those considered shorter.

"Aside from our finding for height, which had been previously reported, these results were surprising," he said. "But, to our knowledge, no one has looked at glioma risk as related to energy balance in childhood and adolescence before."

The researchers found that the association between physical activity and glioma risk was not consistent across the lifespan. Neither nor obesity in adulthood were associated with risk. Since the data were collected before the participants were diagnosed with cancer, it is unlikely that the participants would respond to the questionnaire differently because of their diagnosis, according to Christine B. Ambrosone, Ph.D., professor of oncology and chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. However, both Ambrosone and Moore commented that additional prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings, especially the association with obesity, which was in small numbers.

"These results highlight the potential importance of habits during and adolescence for risk of brain cancer later in life. Additional research is needed to understand the biologic mechanisms that underlie these relationships," added Ambrosone, who is an editorial board member of Cancer Research and was not associated with this study.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers repurpose immune-activating cytokine to fight breast cancer

December 18, 2017
The most lethal form of breast cancer could have a new treatment option, according to new research out of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. In the Proceedings of the ...

Study prompts new ideas on cancers' origins

December 16, 2017
Rapidly dividing, yet aberrant stem cells are a major source of cancer. But a new study suggests that mature cells also play a key role in initiating cancer—a finding that could upend the way scientists think about the ...

What does hair loss have to teach us about cancer metastasis?

December 15, 2017
Understanding how cancer cells are able to metastasize—migrate from the primary tumor to distant sites in the body—and developing therapies to inhibit this process are the focus of many laboratories around the country. ...

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.