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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3396-401. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0497. Epub 2008 Nov 24.

Effect of physical activity on breast cancer risk: findings of the Japan collaborative cohort study.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 1 Kawasumi, Mizuho-cho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 467-8601, Japan. ssuzuki@med.nagoya-cu.ac.jp



This study aimed to examine prospectively the association between physical activity and breast cancer risk in a non-Western population.


We analyzed data from the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study, which included 30,157 women, ages 40 to 69 years at baseline (1988-1990), who reported no previous history of breast cancer, and provided information on their walking and exercise habits. The subjects were followed prospectively from enrollment until 2001 (median follow-up period, 12.4 years). Breast cancer incidence during this period was confirmed using records held at population-based cancer registries. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) for the association of breast cancer incidence with physical activity.


During the 340,055 person-years of follow-up, we identified 207 incident cases of breast cancer. The most physically active group (who walked for > or = 1 hour per day and exercised for > or = 1 hour per week) had a lower risk of breast cancer (HR, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.78) compared with the least active group after adjusting for potential confounding factors. The inverse association of exercise on breast cancer was stronger among those who walked for > or = 1 hour per day than those who walked for <1 hour per day (P = 0.042). These results were not significantly modified by menopausal status or body mass index (BMI).


Our analysis provided evidence that physical activity decreased the risk of breast cancer. Walking for 1 hour per day and undertaking additional weekly exercise both seemed to be protective against breast cancer, regardless of menopausal status or BMI.

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