UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

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Exercise Science | Hemic and Lymphatic Diseases | Neoplasms | Oncology


BACKGROUND: The literature suggests an increased risk between anthropometrics including higher body mass index and lymphoma incidence; however, the association with physical activity remains unclear. A systematic review/meta-analysis was therefore performed to examine this association with physical activity (total, recreational or occupational).

METHODS: PubMed, Web of Science and Embase were reviewed from inception to October 2019 identifying relevant observational studies. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) including subtypes diffuse large B cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) were analyzed. Included studies reported activity, lymphoma cases, effect size and variability measures, and were restricted to human subjects of any age. Data was pooled generating summary relative risk (RR) estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using random-effects models with primary outcome of histologically confirmed incident lymphoma.

RESULTS: One thousand four hundred studies were initially identified with 18 studies (nine cohort, nine case-control) included in final analysis. Comparing highest vs. lowest activity categories was protective for all lymphoma (RR 0.89, 95%CI 0.81-0.98). Sensitivity analysis demonstrated effect persistence within case-control studies (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.71-0.96), but not cohort studies (RR 0.95, 95%CI 0.84-1.07). Borderline protective effect was seen for NHL (RR 0.92, 95%CI 0.84-1.00), but not HL (RR 0.72, 95%CI 0.50-1.04). Analysis by NHL subtype or gender showed no effect. Dose response analysis demonstrated a protective effect (p = 0.034) with a 1% risk reduction per 3 MET hours/week (RR 0.99, 95%CI 0.98-1.00).

CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity may have a protective effect against lymphoma development; further studies are required to generate recommendations regarding health policy.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: This study was registered prospectively at PROSPERO: CRD42020156242 .


Lymphoma, Meta-analysis, Physical activity

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© The Author(s). 2020 Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

DOI of Published Version



Davies GA, Strader C, Chibbar R, Papatheodorou S, Dmytriw AA. The relationship between physical activity and lymphoma: a systematic review and meta analysis. BMC Cancer. 2020 Oct 6;20(1):962. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-07431-x. PMID: 33023529; PMCID: PMC7539461. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC cancer

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.