Correlates of physical activity level in breast cancer survivors participating in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study
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- Hong, S., Bardwell, W.A., Natarajan, L. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2007) 101: 225. doi:10.1007/s10549-006-9284-y
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Physical activity levels among breast cancer survivors are typically low, and knowledge of the correlates of increased physical activity among cancer survivors is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that are associated with physical activity or inactivity among breast cancer survivors.
Data from 3088 women participating in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study, collected prior to randomization, were the focus of the current analyses. Self-reports of physical activity levels, quality of life, depression, and dietary intakes were collected. Pearson correlation analyses were employed to examine the associations among these variables, and multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between selected health behaviors and physical activity levels, after controlling for demographic, breast cancer-related, and psychosocial variables.
Demographic and psychosocial variables were related to physical activity levels (P < 0.001 for all). Cancer treatment type and cancer stage were correlated with survivors’ physical activity levels (P < 0.01), but the associations were no longer significant after controlling for demographic variables. Physical activity levels were strongly associated with other health behaviors, especially dietary intakes (P < 0.001), even after controlling for demographic, cancer-related, and psychosocial factors.
Low physical activity levels in breast cancer survivors are associated with specific behavioral and other factors, which can be considered as indicators of women at higher risk. Findings of significant differences in physical activity levels based on demographic characteristics suggest the importance of promoting physical activity particularly among breast cancer survivors of ethnic minority or lower education levels.