Physical activity and risk of benign proliferative epithelial disorders of the breast, in the Women's Health Initiative

Rita Peila, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Tarah J. Ballinger, Victor Kamensky, Phyllis A. Richey, Nazmus Saquib, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Thomas E. Rohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recreational physical activity (PA) has been shown to be inversely associated with breast cancer risk. However, the association of recreational PA with benign proliferative epithelial disorders (BPED) of the breast, conditions associated with increased risk of breast cancer, has not been adequately studied. Methods: We used data from an ancillary study of benign breast disease conducted among the 68 132 postmenopausal women (aged 50-79 at recruitment) participating in the Women's Health Initiative randomized clinical trials. All clinical trial participants underwent annual or biennial mammogram screening. During the follow-up, for women who reported breast biopsies but were cancer free, the associated histological sections were obtained and subjected to standardized central pathology review. Self-reported recreational PA at baseline (n = 61 684) and at 3 years of the follow-up (n = 55 923) were quantified as metabolic equivalents [MET]-h/week. There were 1624 confirmed BPED cases during an average follow-up time of 7.7 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: Higher average PA over 4 years was associated with lower risk of non-atypical BPED (P-trend = 0.02). There was a 6% lower risk of non-atypical BPED for every 5 MET-h/week increase between baseline and year 3 (HR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.89-0.99). Compared with women who remained inactive (PAbaseline and PAyear3 <9 MET-h/week), those who became active (PAbaseline<9 MET-h/week to PAyear3 ≥9 MET-h/weekee), remained active (PAbaseline and PAyear3 ≥9 MET-h/week), or decreased activity (PAbaseline ≥9 MET-h/week to PAyear3 <9 MET-h/week) had lower BPED risk. Conclusions: Recreational physical activity after menopause was associated with lower BPED risk among postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1948-1958
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Physical activity
  • benign proliferative epithelial disorders
  • breast
  • postmenopausal women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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