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We examined the relationship between body fatness, sports participation and breast cancer risk in 1560 premenopausal cases and 1548 controls, from three related population-based case-control studies in the UK. Half of the women with breast cancer were aged less than 36 years at diagnosis. Women who perceived themselves as plump at age 10 years had a relative risk of 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.69-0.99, P = 0.03) as compared with those who perceived themselves as thin. Self-reported obesity compared with leanness at diagnosis was associated with a relative risk of 0.78 (95% confidence interval 0.56-1.06, P = 0.11). Women who reported having been plump at age 10 years and overweight or obese at diagnosis had a relative risk of 0.75 (95% confidence interval 0.56-1.01, P = 0.06) as compared with those who reported being thin at age 10 years and at diagnosis. Findings for three related measures of body fatness suggested that obesity is associated with a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. There was no association between sports participation and breast cancer risk in these premenopausal women. The relative risk for spending an average of more than 1 h per week in sports compared with less from ages 12 to 30 years was 1.00 (95% CI 0.86-1.16, P = 0.98).

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





817 - 824


Adipose Tissue, Adolescent, Adult, Breast Neoplasms, Case-Control Studies, Child, Exercise, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Obesity, Premenopause, Risk Factors