Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 235–244

Physical activity and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers

  • Anouk Pijpe
  • Peggy Manders
  • Richard M. Brohet
  • J. Margriet Collée
  • Senno Verhoef
  • Hans F. A. Vasen
  • Nicoline Hoogerbrugge
  • Christi J. van Asperen
  • Charlotte Dommering
  • Margreet G. E. M. Ausems
  • Cora M. Aalfs
  • Encarna B. Gomez-Garcia
  • Laura J. van‘t  Veer
  • Flora E. van Leeuwen
  • Matti A. Rookus


BRCA1/2 mutation carriers have a high lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Differences in penetrance indicate that this risk may be influenced by lifestyle factors. Because physical activity is one of the few modifiable risk factors, it may provide a target to add to breast cancer prevention in this high-risk population. We examined the association between self-reported lifetime sports activity and breast cancer risk in a nationwide retrospective cohort study, including 725 carriers, of whom 218 had been diagnosed with breast cancer within 10 years prior to questionnaire completion. We found a nonsignificantly decreased risk for ever engaging in sports activity (HR = 0.84, 95%CI = 0.57–1.24). Among women who had participated in sports, a medium versus low level of intensity and duration (i.e., between 11.0 and 22.7 mean MET hours/week averaged over a lifetime) reduced the risk of breast cancer (HR = 0.59, 95%CI = 0.36–0.95); no dose–response trend was observed. For mean hours/week of sports activity, a nonsignificant trend was observed (HRlow versus never = 0.93, 95%CI = 0.60–1.43; HRmedium versus never = 0.81, 95%CI = 0.51–1.29; HRhigh versus never = 0.78, 95%CI = 0.48–1.29; ptrend overall = 0.272; ptrend active women = 0.487). For number of years of sports activity no significant associations were found. Among women active in sports before age 30, mean MET hours/week showed the strongest inverse association of all activity measures (HRmedium versus low = 0.60, 95%CI = 0.38–0.96; HRhigh versus low = 0.58, 95%CI = 0.35–0.94; ptrend = 0.053). Engaging in sports activity after age 30 was also inversely associated with breast cancer risk (HR = 0.63, 95%CI = 0.44–0.91). Our results indicate that sports activity may reduce the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers.


Physical activity Breast cancer BRCA1/2 HEBON Epidemiology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anouk Pijpe
    • 1
  • Peggy Manders
    • 1
    • 5
  • Richard M. Brohet
    • 1
    • 12
  • J. Margriet Collée
    • 2
  • Senno Verhoef
    • 3
  • Hans F. A. Vasen
    • 4
  • Nicoline Hoogerbrugge
    • 5
  • Christi J. van Asperen
    • 6
  • Charlotte Dommering
    • 7
  • Margreet G. E. M. Ausems
    • 8
  • Cora M. Aalfs
    • 9
  • Encarna B. Gomez-Garcia
    • 10
  • Laura J. van‘t  Veer
    • 11
  • Flora E. van Leeuwen
    • 1
  • Matti A. Rookus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Genetics, Rotterdam Family Cancer ClinicErasmus Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Family Cancer ClinicNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.The Netherlands Foundation for the Detection of Hereditary TumoursLeidenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical CenterNijmegenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Clinical GeneticsLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Clinical Genetics and Human GeneticsVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  9. 9.Department of Clinical GeneticsAcademic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  10. 10.Department of Clinical GeneticsMaastricht University Medical CenterMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  11. 11.Department of PathologyNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  12. 12.Department of Research and EducationSpaarne hospitalHoofddorpThe Netherlands

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