AACR LogoAccording to a latest study, physical activity during adolescence may possibly assist in guarding against a deadly form of brain tumor in adulthood. Although very less is known about the causes of glioma, scientists at the National Cancer Institute have found that it could be associated to an early life physical activity and height.

Glioma is believed to be a rare but often fatal form of brain cancer. It was estimated to account for approximately 80 percent of brain and central nervous system cancers.

Apparently, this study suggests that early life exposures may play a role in disease etiology because the brain develops quickly during childhood and adolescence. Moreover, it may perhaps be more vulnerable to environmental influences during this period.

During the study, experts analyzed whether markers of early life energy expenditure and intake such as physical activity, body mass index and height appear to be related to glioma risk. Between the year 1995 and 1996, they were noted to have distributed a standard questionnaire about dietary intake and other lifestyle exposures to participants in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

Approximately 500,000 men and women answered questions about physical activity, body weight and height. The experts then followed study participants for about eight years, during which period nearly 480 glioma cases occurred. The findings revealed that participants who were physically active during adolescence seemed to have a decreased risk of glioma; their risk was about 36 percent lower as compared to those who were inactive. The findings also showed that those who were obese during adolescence appeared to have an increased risk of glioma. Their risk was noted to be about three to four times more in contrast to individuals who had a normal weight during adolescence.

However, Moore cautioned that “we did not have many people in the study who were obese during adolescence.”

The experts additionally confirmed results of previous studies linking height to increased glioma risk. It was also observed that the risk among taller participants was twice as compared to those considered shorter.

“Aside from our finding for height, which had been previously reported, these results were surprising. But, to our knowledge, no one has looked at glioma risk as related to energy balance in childhood and adolescence before,” continues Moore.

The study experts found that the association between physical activity and glioma risk appears to be inconsistent across the lifespan. Also, neither physical activity nor obesity in adulthood was noted to be associated with glioma risk.

Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., research fellow in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, NCI. Moore stated that, “Our findings suggest that biological factors related to energy expenditure and growth during childhood may play a role in glioma etiology. This clue could help researchers better understand important features of glioma biology and the potentially modifiable lifestyle factors that could be important in preventing this disease.”

He also added that, “engaging in regular physical activity throughout the lifespan conveys many benefits.”

Christine B. Ambrosone, Ph.D., professor of oncology and chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Cancer Institute claimed that since the data was gathered before the participants were diagnosed with cancer, it appears doubtful that the participants would respond to the questionnaire in a different way because of their diagnosis.

However, Ambrosone and Moore were believed to have commented that further potential studies are required in order to confirm these findings, especially the association with obesity, which was in small numbers.

The findings of the study have been published in Cancer Research journal.