Relation between intensity of physical activity and breast cancer risk reduction

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1538-45. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200109000-00018.


Purpose: To examine the influence of frequency, duration, and intensity of physical activity on risk of breast cancer and to compare breast cancer risks associated with self-reported versus assigned intensity levels of activity.

Methods: A population-based case-control study of 1233 incident breast cancer cases and 1241 controls was conducted in Alberta between 1995 and 1997. The frequency, duration and intensity of occupational, household, and recreational activities were measured throughout lifetime using the Lifetime Total Physical Activity Questionnaire and cognitive interviewing methods. Unconditional logistic regression analyses were used to estimate odds ratios and a full assessment of confounding and effect modification was undertaken. Odds ratios for self-reported and compendium-based assigned levels of activity were compared for lifetime total activity and by type of activity.

Results: Breast cancer risk reductions were comparable when self-reported and assigned intensity values were used, although the results and trends were more evident with the assigned intensity data. Moderate-intensity occupational and household activities decreased breast cancer risk, whereas recreational activity, at any intensity level, did not contribute to a breast cancer risk reduction.

Conclusion: This study found that moderate-intensity activities were the major contributors to the decrease in breast cancer risk found in this study and that risk reductions were more evident when the frequency and duration of activity alone were modeled. Of the three types of activity considered, the greatest risk reductions observed were for occupational and household activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Recreation
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires