Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

Physical Activity Research Studies

Higher levels of physical activity are associated with lower risk of at least seven types of cancer. Initial evidence also indicates that engaging in physical activity may extend longevity among certain cancer survivors. To date, most studies of physical activity and cancer have focused on leisure-time physical activity (e.g., exercise, active recreation) assessed by questionnaire-based methods, but physical activity is a complex behavioral phenotype that encompasses a variety of life-domains (e.g., work/school, leisure, household, transportation) and a range of intensities (sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous).

DCEG Research Portfolio on Physical Activity

While many physical activity-cancer associations have been established, many questions remain unanswered including how much and what type of physical is needed to lower cancer risk, what biological mechanisms explain the associations observed, and whether there are other cancer types that may be prevented by adequate physical activity.

The DCEG research portfolio on physical activity focuses on the conduct of prospective etiologic studies in individual cohorts and in consortial efforts that pool data from individual studies.  Mechanistic studies employ established metabolic biomarkers as well as advanced discovery platforms, such as metabolomics. More recent etiologic studies seek to employ accelerometer-based measurements of physical activity in relation to mortality and cancer risk. Finally, the development and testing of new exposure assessment methods for use in next-generation epidemiologic studies are essential for advancing science in this area. 

For more information, contact Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D.

    Search DCEG publications on physical activity and cancer.

    Studies that Investigate Physical Activity and Cancer Risk




    Tools for the Measurement of Physical Activity

    Activities Completed over Time in 24-Hours (ACT24)

    ACT24 is a web-based physical activity evaluation tool developed by the NCI where participants can enter the activities they engaged in during the previous day. The tool will be employed in cohort studies to improve our understanding of physical activity and disease.

    Automated Self-Administered 24-hour Dietary Assessment Tool (ASA24)

    ASA24 is a freely available web-based tool for epidemiologic, interventional, behavioral, or clinical research from the NCI that enables multiple automatically coded self-administered 24-hour recalls and food records. There are U.S., Canadian, and Australian versions.