Background Physical activity is known to protect against several cancers and to improve survival and quality of life in cancer patients. Few studies have addressed the association between physical activity and risk of non Hodgkin lymphoma and its subtypes.
Methods During 1998–2004, a case-control study on the aetiology of lymphoma was conducted Sardinia, Italy as part of the European multicentre study EPILYMPH. Information on lifetime recreational physical activity was collected using a standardised questionnaire. Risk of the major lymphoma subtypes associated with ever practicing physical activity and with quartiles of hours of recreational physical activity in the lifetime was calculated with unconditional logistic regression analysis, adjusting by age, gender, education and study centre.
Results Risk of lymphoma overall and B-cell lymphoma was not associated with ever practicing recreational physical activity (OR = 0.9, 95% CI: 0.7–1.3). However, a significant protective effect was observed in the upper quartile of hours of recreational physical activity in the lifetime (OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.3–0.8). The inverse association was consistent across the major lymphoma subtypes, namely diffuse large B cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, and multiple myeloma.
Conclusions Our results suggest an inverse association between risk of the major lymphoma subtypes and prolonged recreational physical activity.
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