Physical Activity and Cancer Prevention: Awareness and Meeting the Recommendations among Adult Saudis


Background: There is a scarcity of information about the proportion of the adult Saudi population thatmeet the recommended guidelines of physical activity (PA) to reduce cancer risk. Moreover, their awarenessabout the role of PA in cancer prevention is unclear.
Objectives: This cross-sectional study aimed at estimatingthe proportion of adult Saudis meeting the PA guidelines, specifically those recommended by American CancerSociety (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 recruitedfrom 6 urban and 4 rural primary health care centers in Al Hassa, Saudi Arabia. Participants were personallyinterviewed to gather information about their sociodemographic characteristics, searching activity about PA andcancer, and the time spent in leisure time PA (moderate and vigorous)/week using the Global Physical ActivityQuestionnaire 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 ofmoderate-vigorous PA activity/≥5 days/week or 225 minutes/week). Multivariate regression showed that beingmale (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 physicallyactive and while >70% of them indicated the role of PA in prevention of hypertension, coronary heart disease andlowering elevated blood cholesterol, only 18.6% and 21.7% correctly mentioned the role of PA in reducing colonand breast cancer risk, respectively. Poor knowledge was found among those with less than college educationand aged ≥50 years. The level of knowledge was significantly positively correlated with total leisure time PA ofthe participants.
Conclusions: A minority of adult Saudis in Al Hassa was aware about the role of PA in cancerprevention and engaged in sufficient LTPA for cancer risk reduction benefits, highlighting the need for publichealth actions to include policies and programs that address factors deterring their participation in LTPA andincreasing their awareness with remedies to manage the prevalent misconceptions.