Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 697–705 | Cite as

Childhood and teenage physical activity and breast cancer risk

  • Nicole M. Niehoff
  • Alexandra J. White
  • Dale P. Sandler
Epidemiology

Abstract

Purpose

Adult physical activity is associated with reduced breast cancer risk, but few studies have evaluated activity before adulthood. Early life may be an important period because of rapid breast development and hormonal changes. This study contributes new information by examining childhood (ages 5–12) and teenage (ages 13–19) activity separately and overall.

Methods

The Sister Study is a cohort of 50,884 women aged 35–74. Women reported age 5–19 sports/exercise activities and age 10 and 16 unstructured activities. Both hours and MET-hours of activity were considered in association with breast cancer overall, by ER status, and by menopausal status. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated with Cox proportional hazards models.

Results

2416 cases were diagnosed during follow-up (mean = 6.4 years). Participation in 7+ hours (vs <1 h) per week of sports/exercise during ages 5–19 was associated with reduced breast cancer risk (HR = 0.75; 95% CI 0.57–0.99). 7+ hours (vs <1 h) per week of unstructured physical activity at age 16, but not age 10, was inversely associated with breast cancer (HR = 0.81; 95% CI 0.70–0.95). Associations were more pronounced for ER+ tumors, especially for activity during the childhood (ages 5–12) period. Due to low correlation between childhood/teenage and adulthood activity in this study (r = 0.1), it is unlikely that recent activity explains our results.

Conclusions

Findings from this large cohort indicate higher levels of physical activity during ages 5–19 are inversely associated with breast cancer risk, supporting early life as a window of susceptibility for breast cancer development.

Keywords

Childhood Early life Physical activity Breast cancer 

Supplementary material

10549_2017_4276_MOESM1_ESM.doc (166 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 166 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole M. Niehoff
    • 1
  • Alexandra J. White
    • 2
  • Dale P. Sandler
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Epidemiology BranchNational Institute of Environmental Health SciencesResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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