Economic burden of colorectal and breast cancers attributable to lack of physical activity in Brazil

Leandro F.M. Rezende, Gerson Ferrari, Luciana Ribeiro Bahia, Roger Dos Santos Rosa, Michelle Quarti Machado da Rosa, Romulo Cristovão de Souza, Dong Hoon Lee, Edward Giovannucci, José Eluf-Neto

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The increasing number of cancer patients has an escalating economic impact to public health systems (approximately, International dollars- Int$ 60 billion annually in Brazil). Physical activity is widely recognized as one important modifiable risk factor for cancer. Herein, we estimated the economic costs of colon and post-menopausal breast cancers in the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) attributable to lack of physical activity. Methods: Population attributable fractions were calculated using prevalence data from 57,962 adults who answered a physical activity questionnaire in the Brazilian National Health Survey, and relative risks of colon and breast cancer from a meta-analysis. Annual costs (1 Int$ = 2.1 reais) with hospitalization, chemotherapy and radiotherapy were obtained from the Hospital and Ambulatory Information Systems of the Brazilian SUS. Two counterfactual scenarios were considered: theoretical minimum risk exposure level (≥8000 MET-min/week) and physical activity guidelines (≥600 MET-min/week). Results: Annually, the Brazilian SUS expended Int$ 4.5 billion in direct costs related to cancer treatment, of which Int$ 553 million due to colon and breast cancers. Direct costs related to colon and breast cancers attributable to lack of physical activity were Int$ 23.4 million and Int$ 26.9 million, respectively. Achieving at least the physical activity guidelines would save Int$ 10.3 mi (colon, Int$ 6.4 mi; breast, Int$ 3.9 mi). Conclusions: Lack of physical activity accounts for Int$ 50.3 million annually in direct costs related to colon and post-menopausal breast cancers. Population-wide interventions aiming to promote physical activity are needed to reduce the economic burden of cancer in Brazil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1190
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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