Jump to Search Jump to Navigation Jump to Content


732. Adolescent Exercise in Association with Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer among Middle-Aged and Older Chinese Women

Research Article
Sarah J. Nechuta, Xiao Ou Shu, Gong Yang, Hui Cai, Yu-Tang Gao, Hong-Lan Li, Yong-Bing Xiang, and Wei Zheng
September 2015

Commentary by Rona Macniven, GlobalPANet Executive, The University of Sydney, Australia

The tracking of physical activity from childhood to adulthood is a key to the prevention of many chronic diseases. In this analysis of the large scale Shanghai Women's Health Study (SWHS), evidence of reduced mortality from all cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and various cancers was found among women who were active during adolescence. 

Women between the ages of 40 and 70 years recalled their adolescent and adult exercise history, as well as other lifestyle and socioeconomic (SES) factors at interviews every 2-3 years since 1996-2000. Their records were linked to 5,282 deaths recorded in the Shanghai Vital Statistics Registry where mortality from CVD and the four most common types of cancer among women: breast; lung; colorectal; and stomach was examined over 12 years using Cox regression models.    

After adjusting for relevant factors, the main findings were that physical activity during both adolescence and adulthood was associated with reduced risk in each disease category of 20%, 17% and 13% for total, CVD and cancer mortality. This was calculated for those achieving participation of least 1.33 hours/week which does not equate to achieving international physical activity recommendations, but associations were also found at higher activity thresholds. Participation in sports teams was also associated with a lower likelihood of cancer mortality. Another key finding was that joint adolescent and adult exercise was associated with lower mortality risk for each of the three categories but only adolescence exercise was associated with lower cancer mortality.

While the use of recall of physical activity over a long time period in these women’s lives could have been subject to some bias, these findings nonetheless highlight the role of lifelong participation in physical activity in reducing chronic disease mortality. Strategies to increase population levels of physical activity across the lifespan are clearly important, from this research. 

Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 2015, 24: 1–7. Access to this article may depend on your institutional right.  Click here to access the full article.