Occurrence of breast cancer in relation to recreational exercise in women age 50-64 years

Epidemiology. 1996 Nov;7(6):598-604. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199611000-00006.


To investigate the relation between recreational physical activity and breast cancer, we conducted an analysis of a population-based case-control study of women age 50-64 years in western Washington State. The study included 537 patients with breast cancer diagnosed during 1988-1990 and 492 randomly selected population control women. Detailed information on recreational exercise habits and other risk factors for breast cancer was ascertained by structured in-person interviews. A similar proportion of cases and controls reported exercise in the 2 years before the referent date (about 50%), or during ages 12-21 years (about 40%). Compared with women who reported no exercise, there was a slightly decreased risk of breast cancer in women who exercised more than 1.5 hours per week in the 2 years before diagnosis (cases) or referent date (controls) [odds ratio (OR) = 0.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.4-1.1], or who engaged in at least some high-intensity exercise (OR = 0.7;95% CI = 0.4-1.1), but there was no clear decline in risk at the highest categories of duration or intensity. There was no association between any intensity exercise at ages 12-21 years and risk of breast cancer. These results indicate a weak negative association between physical activity and risk of breast cancer in middle-aged women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • SEER Program