Association of Grip Strength with Cancer Risk

Pavankumar Kamat


January 04, 2022


  • Absolute handgrip strength (HGS) was associated with an increased risk of several cancer sites and all-cause cancer.

  • Relative HGS modestly improved the prediction of head, neck, and breast cancers.

Why this matters

  • HGS has been previously associated with several chronic diseases and all-cause mortality across different age groups.

Study design

  • A prospective cohort study of 445,552 participants (age, 37-73 years), identified using data from the UK Biobank (2007-2010).

  • The associations of HGS, expressed in absolute terms (kg) and relative to anthropometric variables, with 15 cancer sites and all-cause cancer were evaluated.

  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • Of 445,552 participants, 48,886 (11.0%) were diagnosed with cancer during a median follow-up of 8.8 years.

  • After adjustment for confounders, absolute grip strength was inversely associated with (adjusted HR; 95% CI):

    • endometrial cancer (0.74; 0.69-0.79; P < .001);

    • gallbladder (0.81; 0.72-0.92; = .001);

    • liver (0.86; 0.79-0.93; P < .001);

    • kidney (0.93; 0.88-0.99; P = .031);

    • breast (0.94; 0.91-0.96; < .001); and

    • all-cause cancer (0.97; 0.95-0.98; P < .001).

  • Endometrial, liver, gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus, pancreas, colorectal, breast, and all-cause cancers were inversely associated with HGS relative to weight and body mass index.

  • Compared with absolute grip strength, grip strength relative to body fat mass was modestly better in predicting head, neck, and breast cancers.


  • Observational design.

  • UK Biobank is not representative of the general population in terms of deprivation and lifestyle.

Parra-Soto S, Pell JP, Celis-Morales C, Ho FK. Absolute and relative grip strength as predictors of cancer: prospective cohort study of 445 552 participants in UK Biobank. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2021 Dec 24 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12863. PMID: 34953058 View abstract.


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