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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3402-10. Epub 2008 Nov 24.
Physical activity and postmenopausal breast cancer: effect modification by breast cancer subtypes and effective periods in life.
Unit of Environmental Epidemiology Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Im Neuenheimer Feld 280 69120 Heidelberg Germany.
Physical activity (PA) has been inversely associated with postmenopausal breast cancer risk. However, it is unclear how and in which life periods PA may be effective to reduce breast cancer risk. Moreover, the evidence is still not judged as 'convincing' as there is some heterogeneity among study results. Most studies regarded breast cancer as a single disease, at best separated by menopausal status. Yet, breast cancers are heterogeneous and likely have different etiologies. Therefore, we analyzed the association of PA with different breast cancer subtypes in 3,414 postmenopausal cases and 6,569 controls from a case-control study on breast cancer conducted 2002-2005 in Germany (MARIE study). PA in the age periods 30-49 and 50+ years was assessed, including leisure-time PA (sports, cycling, walking) and non-recreational PA (occupational and household activities). There was a significant protective effect of leisure-time PA for ER+/PR+ carcinomas (adjusted odds ratio = 0.71, 95% confidence interval: 0.60, 0.85; trend P = 0.0001), but no effect for ER-/PR- carcinomas. Moreover, looking at physical activity pattern over time, the effect of PA after menopause on reducing breast cancer risk was more pronounced than the effect of PA before menopause. Overall, effects of PA were independent from adult weight gain, body mass index, and energy intake. These findings suggest that leisure-time PA after menopause may reduce postmenopausal breast cancer risk at least in part via hormonal pathways and not solely by changing body composition. Inactive postmenopausal women should be encouraged to become physically active even later in life.
PMID: 19029400 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]