Letter From the Editors

Issue 28, Winter/Spring 2016

In this issue of Cancer Prevention, we report on a recent study that demonstrates a significant protective effect of physical activity on risk for many types of cancer.

This may not seem so eye-opening when one looks around us at all the individuals who are jogging, bike riding, going to the gym to use the treadmill or the pool, or the people who are doing Zumba. All of them would tell you that, at least in part, they are undertaking this regular exercise in order to improve their health and prevent disease.

And they would be right in their reasoning – but, for the most part, the benefits of physical activity have generally been associated with cardiovascular disease rather than cancer.

Indeed, the highly influential paper by Sir Richard Doll and Richard Peto in 1981, that was a milestone in listing and ranking the key causes of cancer that are still considered crucial today, failed even to include physical activity as a preventive strategy. It was not until the early 1980s that occupational physical activity began to be recognized and later sports and recreation were also explored.

We live in a world where a focus has been placed on tobacco control, obesity management, hypertension control, dietary fat reduction, and the use of aspirin for health, largely because of their impact on cardiovascular disease. The result has been a dramatic decline in cardiovascular mortality since 1980. 

Since cancer and cardiovascular disease share many of the same risk factors, the control of these risk factors promises to lead to a significant reduction in the cancer burden. Based on a growing body of evidence – including the study that is featured in this issue – one hopes that increased physical activity will contribute to a reduction in both cancer incidence and mortality. 

The Editors

Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD
Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
Associate Director for Cancer Prevention
Meyer Cancer Center
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers

Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD
Myron M. Studner Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Associate Director for Population Sciences
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
and Mailman School of Public Health
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers