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BACKGROUND: Physical inactivity is a global public health problem. A practical solution would be to build physical activity into the daily routine by using active modes of transport. Choice of transport mode can influence cancer risk through their effects on levels of physical activity, sedentary time, and environmental pollution. This review synthesizes existing evidence on the associations of specific transport modes with risks of site-specific cancers. METHODS: Relevant literature was searched in PubMed, Embase, and Scopus from 1914 to 17th February 2023. For cancer sites with effect measures available for a specific transport mode from two or more studies, random effects meta-analyses were performed to pool relative risks (RR) comparing the highest vs. lowest activity group as well as per 10 Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) hour increment in transport-related physical activity per week (∼150 min of walking or 90 min of cycling). RESULTS: 27 eligible studies (11 cohort, 15 case-control, and 1 case-cohort) were identified, which reported the associations of transport modes with 10 site-specific cancers. In the meta-analysis, 10 MET hour increment in transport-related physical activity per week was associated with a reduction in risk for endometrial cancer (RR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.83-0.997), colorectal cancer (RR: 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91-0.99) and breast cancer (RR: 0.99, 95% CI: 0.89-0.996). The highest level of walking only or walking and cycling combined modes, compared to the lowest level, were significantly associated with a 12% and 30% reduced risk of breast and endometrial cancers respectively. Cycling, compared to motorized modes, was associated with a lower risk of overall cancer incidence and mortality. CONCLUSION: Active transport appears to reduce cancer risk, but evidence for cancer sites other than colorectum, breast, and endometrium is currently limited.

Original publication




Journal article


Environ Health

Publication Date





Active transport, Meta-analysis, Site-specific cancers, Systematic review, Transport modes