Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PurposePhysical activity may reduce the risk of some types of cancer in men. Biological mechanisms may involve changes in hormone concentrations; however, this relationship is not well established. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the associations of physical activity with circulating insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG, which modifies sex hormone activity), and total and free testosterone concentrations, and the extent these associations might be mediated by body mass index (BMI).MethodsCirculating concentrations of these hormones and anthropometric measurements and self-reported physical activity data were available for 117,100 healthy male UK Biobank participants at recruitment. Objectively measured accelerometer physical activity levels were also collected on average 5.7 years after recruitment in 28,000 men. Geometric means of hormone concentrations were estimated using multivariable-adjusted analysis of variance, with and without adjustment for BMI.ResultsThe associations between physical activity and hormones were modest and similar for objectively measured (accelerometer) and self-reported physical activity. Compared to men with the lowest objectively measured physical activity, men with high physical activity levels had 14% and 8% higher concentrations of SHBG and total testosterone, respectively, and these differences were attenuated to 6% and 3% following adjustment for BMI.ConclusionOur results suggest that the associations of physical activity with the hormones investigated are, at most, modest; and following adjustment for BMI, the small associations with SHBG and total testosterone were largely attenuated. Therefore, it is unlikely that changes in these circulating hormones explain the associations of physical activity with risk of cancer either independently or via BMI.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer causes & control : CCC

Publication Date



Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Richard Doll Building, Old Road Campus, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK.