Baseline recreational physical activity, history of sports participation, and postmenopausal breast carcinoma risk in the Netherlands Cohort Study

Cancer. 2001 Sep 15;92(6):1638-49. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010915)92:6<1638::aid-cncr1490>;2-q.


Background: The aim of the current study was to evaluate the relation between physical activity and breast carcinoma risk with specific emphasis on interaction with other aspects of energy balance.

Methods: The Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer was conducted among 62,537 women ages 55-69 years at baseline. Information regarding baseline recreational physical activity, history of sports participation, and occupational physical activity was collected with a questionnaire in 1986. After 7.3 years of follow-up, 1208 incident breast carcinoma cases were available for case-cohort analyses.

Results: A summed total of baseline recreational physical activity (including walking, cycling, gardening) showed an inverse association with breast carcinoma risk. Women who were active in the above-mentioned activities for > 90 minutes a day had a rate ratio (RR) of 0.76 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.58-0.99) compared with women who were active < 30 minutes a day. Women who ever participated into sports before baseline had a RR of 1.13 (95% CI, 0.94-1.37) compared with women who never participated in sports. The relation between sports participation and breast carcinoma risk did not appear to be dependent on the time window of participation (before/after menarche, before/after birth of the first child, before/after age 20 years). No interaction was found between baseline recreational physical activity, body mass index (BMI) (kg/m(2)), energy intake, and weight gain/loss during adult life in relation to breast carcinoma, although in the subgroup of women with a high BMI we found a stronger inverse relation between recreational physical activity and breast carcinoma risk independent of energy intake. Occupational physical activity was not found to be related to breast carcinoma risk.

Conclusions: The current study findings support the hypothesis that recreational physical activity is associated inversely with breast carcinoma risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Recreation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires