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OBJECTIVE: There is limited prospective evidence on the association of physical activity with hepatobiliary cancer subtypes and other major hepatobiliary diseases, especially in China. We aimed to quantify the associations with risk of these diseases. METHODS: The study population involved 460 937 participants of the prospective China Kadoorie Biobank aged 30-79 years from 10 diverse areas in China without history of cancer or hepatobiliary disease at baseline. Cox regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for each disease associated with self-reported total and domain-specific physical activity (occupational and non-occupational, ie, leisure time, household and commuting). RESULTS: During ~10 years of follow-up, 22 012 incident cases of hepatobiliary diseases were recorded. The overall mean (SD) total physical activity was 21.2 (13.9) metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-hours/day, with 62% from occupational activity. Total physical activity was inversely associated with hospitalised non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (HR comparing top vs bottom quintile: 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.72), viral hepatitis (0.73, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.87), cirrhosis (0.76, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.88) and liver cancer (0.81, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.93), as well as gallstone disease (0.86, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.90), gallbladder cancer (0.51, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.80) and biliary tract cancer (0.55, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.78). The associations for occupational physical activity were similar to those for total physical activity, but for non-occupational physical activity they differed by disease subtype. For leisure-time physical activity, there was an inverse association with liver cancer and an inverse trend for gallstone disease (HR comparing ≥7.5 MET-hours/day with none: 0.83, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.91 and 0.82, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.01). CONCLUSION: Among Chinese adults, high total physical activity, particularly occupational physical activity, was inversely associated with risk of major hepatobiliary cancers and diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and certain types of cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Sports Med

Publication Date





1024 - 1033


cancer, epidemiology, liver, physical activity, Adult, Aged, China, Digestive System Diseases, Exercise, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors