Objective: Physical activity may decrease breast cancer risk. However, it is unclear what intensity of exercise and during which life periods this effect on decreasing risk is efficiently expressed, and whether the associations differ by the estrogen-/progesterone- receptor (ER/PR) status of tumors. We investigated associations between age- and intensity-specific leisure-time physical activity and ER/PR-defined breast cancer risk.
Methods: We conducted a hospital-based case-control study in Nagano, Japan. Subjects were 405 cases newly diagnosed (>99% known ER/PR) from 2001 to 2005, who were age-/area-matched with 405 controls. Activity was assessed with a self-reported questionnaire which considered intensity level (moderate and/or strenuous) at different ages (at 12 and 20 years, and in the previous 5 years). Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using logistic regression.
Results: Strenuous but not moderate physical activity at age 12 was inversely associated with pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer risk across ER/PR subtypes [overall OR(≥ 5 days/week vs. none) = 0.24 (0.14-0.43)]. Moderate physical activity in the previous 5 years was significantly associated with a decrease in risk for postmenopausal ER + PR + tumors only [OR(≥ 1 day/week vs. none) = 0.35 (0.18-0.67)].
Conclusion: Strenuous activity in teens and moderate activity after menopause may contribute to a reduction in breast cancer risk.