A case-control study of lifetime occupational sitting and likelihood of breast cancer

Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Jun;24(6):1257-62. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0194-0. Epub 2013 Mar 24.


Purpose: Sedentary behavior may be a unique risk factor for some cancers, including breast cancer. The objective of this study was to determine the association between lifetime occupational sitting and likelihood of breast cancer.

Methods: A case-control study of 2,452 women was conducted in Alberta, Canada, between 1995 and 1997. A comprehensive measure of lifetime physical activity assessed frequency and duration of sedentary jobs. Logistic regression estimated the odds of being diagnosed with breast cancer across quartiles of lifetime occupational sitting, by menopausal status and family history of breast cancer, and within body mass index categories and physical activity quartiles.

Results: There was no association between occupational sitting and breast cancer among pre-menopausal women and women with a family history of breast cancer. Unexpectedly, higher amounts of occupational sitting were associated with lower odds of breast cancer in post-menopausal women (top versus bottom categories of occupational sitting OR = 0.71, 95 % CI 0.52, 0.97), women without a family history of breast cancer (OR = 0.77, 95 % CI 0.60, 1.00), and women in the third highest quartile of total lifetime physical activity (OR = 0.57, 95 % CI 0.33, 0.97).

Conclusion: Occupational sitting levels were lower than would be expected in a contemporary study. Exposures may have been insufficient to make a determinable contribution to breast cancer risk.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires