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Physical activity and risks of breast and colorectal cancer: A Mendelian randomization analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Nikos Papadimitriou
  • Niki L Dimou
  • Konstantinos K Tsilidis
  • Barbara Banbury
  • Richard M Martin
  • Sarah J Lewis
  • Nabila Kazmi
  • Timothy M Robinson
  • Demetrius Albanes
  • Krasimira Aleksandrova
  • Sonja I Berndt
  • Timothy D Bishop
  • Hermann Brenner
  • Daniel D. Buchanan
  • H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita
  • Peter T. Campbell
  • Sergi Castellví-Bel
  • Andrew T. Chan
  • Jenny Chang-Claude
  • Merete Ellingjord-Dale
  • Jane C. Figueiredo
  • Steven Gallinger
  • Graham G. Giles
  • Edward Giovannucci
  • Stephen B. Gruber
  • Andrea Gsur
  • Jochen Hampe
  • Heather Hampel
  • Sophia Harlid
  • Tabitha A Harrison
  • Michael Hoffmeister
  • John L Hopper
  • Li Hsu
  • Jose-Maria Huerta
  • Jeroen R Huyghe
  • Mark A. Jenkins
  • Temitope O Keku
  • Tilman Kühn
  • Carlo La Vecchia
  • Loic Le Marchand
  • Christopher Li
  • Li Li
  • Annika Lindblom
  • Noralane M. Lindor
  • Brigid Lynch
  • Sanford Markowitz
  • Giovanna Masala
  • Anna May
  • Roger L Milne
  • Evelyn Monninkhof
  • Lorena Moreno
  • Victor Moreno
  • Polly Newcomb
  • Kenneth Offit
  • Vittorio Perduca
  • Paul Pharoah
  • Elizabeth A. Platz
  • John D Potter
  • Gad Rennert
  • Elio Riboli
  • Maria-Jose Sanchez
  • Stephanie L. Schmit
  • Robert E Schoen
  • Gianluca Severi
  • Sabina Sieri
  • Martha L. Slattery
  • Mingyang Song
  • Catherine M. Tangen
  • Stephen Thibodeau
  • Ruth C Travis
  • Antonia Trichopoulou
  • Cornelia M Ulrich
  • Franzel Jb van Duijnhoven
  • Bethany Van Guelpen
  • Pavel Vodicka
  • Emily White
  • Alicja Wolk
  • Michael Woods
  • Anna H. Wu
  • Ulrike Peters
  • Marc J Gunter
  • Neil Murphy
Original languageEnglish
Article number597 (2020)
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Dec 2019
DatePublished (current) - 30 Jan 2020


Physical activity has been associated with lower risks of breast and colorectal cancer in epidemiological studies; however, it is unknown if these associations are causal or confounded. In two-sample Mendelian randomisation analyses, using summary genetic data from the UK Biobank and GWA consortia, we found that a one standard deviation increment in average acceleration was associated with lower risks of breast cancer (odds ratio [OR]: 0.51, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.27 to 0.98, P-value = 0.04) and colorectal cancer (OR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.48 to 0.90, P-value = 0.01). We found similar magnitude inverse associations for estrogen positive (ER+ve) breast cancer and for colon cancer. Our results support a potentially causal relationship between higher physical activity levels and lower risks of breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Based on these data, the promotion of physical activity is probably an effective strategy in the primary prevention of these commonly diagnosed cancers.

    Structured keywords

  • ICEP

    Research areas

  • breast cancer, cancer, Cancer epidemiology, cancer genetics, colorectal cancer

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Springer NAture at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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    Licence: CC BY


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