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Physical activity and cancer prevention: awareness and meeting the recommendations among adult Saudis

Tarek Tawfik Amin, Abudllah Mohammed Al-Hammam, Nasser Abdullah AlMulhim, Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Hayan, Mona Mohammed Al-Mulhim, Modhahir Jawad Al-Mosabeh, Mohammed Ali Al-Subaie, Qassem Ahmed Al-Hmmad, Ahmed Adi Al-Omran
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention: APJCP 2014, 15 (6): 2597-606
24761870

BACKGROUND: There is a scarcity of information about the proportion of the adult Saudi population that meet the recommended guidelines of physical activity (PA) to reduce cancer risk. Moreover, their awareness about the role of PA in cancer prevention is unclear.

OBJECTIVES: This cross-sectional study aimed at estimating the proportion of adult Saudis meeting the PA guidelines, specifically those recommended by American Cancer Society (ACS) for cancer prevention, and to assess the public awareness about the role of PA in cancer prevention.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using a multistage sampling method, 2,127 adult Saudis of both genders were recruited from 6 urban and 4 rural primary health care centers in Al Hassa, Saudi Arabia. Participants were personally interviewed to gather information about their sociodemographic characteristics, searching activity about PA and cancer, and the time spent in leisure time PA (moderate and vigorous)/week using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire with show cards. Finally, items about the role of PA in cancer risk reduction were inquired.

RESULTS: Of the included participants, 11.6% met the recommendations for cancer prevention (≥ 45 minutes of moderate-vigorous PA activity/≥ 5 days/week or 225 minutes/week). Multivariate regression showed that being male (AOR=1.49, CI=1.09-2.06), <20 years of age (AOR=3.11, CI=2.03-4.76), and unemployed (AOR=2.22, CI=1.57-3.18) were significant predictors for meeting PA recommendations for cancer prevention. Only 11.4% of the sample indicated correctly the frequency and duration of PA required for an average adult to be physically active and while >70% of them indicated the role of PA in prevention of hypertension, coronary heart disease and lowering elevated blood cholesterol, only 18.6% and 21.7% correctly mentioned the role of PA in reducing colon and breast cancer risk, respectively. Poor knowledge was found among those with less than college education and aged ≥ 50 years. The level of knowledge was significantly positively correlated with total leisure time PA of the participants.

CONCLUSIONS: A minority of adult Saudis in Al Hassa was aware about the role of PA in cancer prevention and engaged in sufficient LTPA for cancer risk reduction benefits, highlighting the need for public health actions to include policies and programs that address factors deterring their participation in LTPA and increasing their awareness with remedies to manage the prevalent misconceptions.

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