BACKGROUND: Living in neighborhoods with higher levels of walkability has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity and higher levels of physical activity. Obesity has been linked to increased risk of 13 cancers in women. However, long-term prospective studies of neighborhood walkability and risk for obesity-related cancer are scarce. OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the association between long-term average neighborhood walkability and obesity-related cancer risk in women. METHODS: The New York University Women’s Health Study (NYUWHS) is a prospective cohort with 14,274 women recruited between 1985 and 1991 in New York City and followed over nearly three decades. We geocoded residential addresses for each participant throughout follow-up and cal-culated an average annual measure of neighborhood walkability across years of follow-up using data on population density and accessibility to destinations associated with geocoded residential addresses. We used ICD-9 codes to characterize first primary obesity-related cancers and employed Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between average neighborhood walkability and risk of overall and site-specific obesity-related cancers. RESULTS: Residing in neighborhoods with a higher walkability level was associated with a reduced risk of overall and site-specific obesity-related cancers. The hazards ratios associated with a 1-standard deviation increase in average annual neighborhood walkability were 0.88 (95% CI: 0.85, 0.93) for overall obesity-related cancer, 0.89 (95% CI: 0.84, 0.95) for postmenopausal breast cancer, 0.82 (95% CI: 0.68, 0.99) for ovarian cancer, 0.87 (95% CI: 0.76, 0.99) for endometrial cancer, and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.94) for multiple myeloma, adjusting for potential confounders at both the individual and neighborhood level. The association between neighborhood walkability and risk of overall obesity-related cancer was stronger among women living in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty compared with women living in areas with lower poverty levels (pInteraction = 0:006). DISCUSSION: Our study highlights a potential protective role of neighborhood walkability in preventing obesity-related cancers in women.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis