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13 Feb 2023
  • VCCC Alliance
  • Cancer Council Victoria
Monday Lunch Livestream | Webinar | 1.00–2.00pm

Monday Lunch Livestream: Cancer control agencies should prioritise and invest in physical activity promotion

Physical activity likely protects against more cancers. How many cases could be prevented? Why aren't we doing more?

Associate Professor Brigid Lynch will discuss recent epidemiological evidence suggesting that physical inactivity may increase the risk of up to 13 different types of cancer.

It was previously estimated that 1,814 (1.6% of incident cancers) were attributable to physical inactivity in Australia in 2010, when only three sites (breast, colon, endometrium) were considered attributable to physical inactivity. We now estimate that 6,361 of the cancers observed in 2015 were attributable to physical inactivity, representing 4.8% of all cancers diagnosed. This suggests that more than three times as many cancers are attributable to physical inactivity than previously reported. However, epidemiological evidence in this field tends to be afflicted by numerous biases; this uncertainty needs to be resolved before physical activity is prominently addressed by cancer prevention policy or programs in Australia.

This presentation will demonstrate how triangulating evidence from traditional epidemiological studies with findings from Mendelian randomisation studies and systematic reviews of mechanistic studies can enable us to draw causal conclusions about whether physical activity reduces cancer risk.

The session will explore 

  • Updated estimates of the number of cancers attributable to physical inactivity in Australia 
  • Why current national and international cancer control agencies, including Cancer Council Australia, continues to focus on colon, postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancer
  • How we're using contemporary epidemiological methods to minimise the biases that cast doubt on research findings
  • Key areas for future research in this field


Associate Professor Brigid Lynch 
Cancer Council Victoria 

A/Prof Brigid Lynch is a cancer epidemiologist whose research focuses on how physical activity is related to cancer risk, biological mechanisms underlying risk, and health outcomes for cancer survivors. Her research interests include applying causal inference methods to help advance the field of physical activity epidemiology. She is a principal investigator of the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study, a national cohort study of nearly 60,000 people. Brigid is also the President of the Australasian Epidemiological Association and was the inaugural co-Chair of the both the Sedentary Behaviour and Epidemiology Councils of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health.

Monday 13 February 
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