Physical activity is inversely associated with the risk of breast cancer among women in the general population. It is not clear whether or not physical activity is associated with the risk of BRCA-associated breast cancer.
We conducted a case–control study of 443 matched pairs of BRCA mutation carriers to evaluate the association between physical activity and breast cancer risk. Moderate and vigorous physical activities at ages 12–13, ages 14–17, ages 18–22, ages 23–29 and ages 30–34 were determined using the Nurses’ Health Study II Physical Activity Questionnaire. We estimated mean metabolic equivalent task hours/week for moderate, vigorous and total physical activities overall (ages 12–34), during adolescence (ages 12–17) and during early adulthood (ages 18–34). Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for total, moderate and strenuous recreational physical activities and breast cancer risk, by menopausal status.
Overall, there was no significant association between total physical activity and subsequent breast cancer risk (ORQ4 vs. Q1 = 1.01, 95% CI 0.69–1.47; P-trend = 0.72). Moderate physical activity between ages 12–17 was associated with a 38% decreased risk of premenopausal breast cancer (ORQ4 vs. Q1 = 0.62; 95% CI 0.40–0.96; P-trend = 0.01). We found no association between exercise and breast cancer diagnosed after menopause.
These findings suggest that early-life physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer among BRCA mutation carriers.
Future prospective analyses, complemented by mechanistic evidence, are warranted in this high-risk population.
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We would like to acknowledge the study staff, students and volunteers including Shana Kim, Farah Shoukat, Ellen MacDougall, Zoella Pasta, Nida Mian, Jennifer Ng, Sarah Chin, Hamida Begum, Harmeet Chaudhary, Asrafi Azmi, Shahana Nargis, Clotilde Ngwa, Mai Abdelhadi, Saiveena Penikalapati, Laavanya Somasundaram and Hannah Horvath who helped with the data collection and data entry.
Joanne Kotsopoulos is the recipient of a Cancer Care Ontario Research Chair in Population Studies and a Canadian Cancer Society Career Development Award in Prevention. Steven A. Narod is the recipient of a Tier I Canada Research Chair. This study was supported by a Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute Grant (703058). This work was supported by revenue from Nebraska’s excise tax on cigarettes awarded to Creighton University by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the State of Nebraska or the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Funding was also received from the Liz’s Legacy fund through Kicks for a Cure. Henry Lynch’s work is partially funded through the Charles F. and Mary C. Heider Chair in Cancer Research, which he holds at Creighton University.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Lammert, J., Lubinski, J., Gronwald, J. et al. Physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Breast Cancer Res Treat 169, 561–571 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10549-018-4694-1
- Physical activity
- Breast cancer