Open Access Research

Physical activity and mammographic density in a cohort of postmenopausal Norwegian women; a cross-sectional study

Samera Azeem Qureshi1, Merete Ellingjord-Dale1, Solveig Hofvind2, Anna H Wu3 and Giske Ursin123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, P.Box 1110, Blindern, Oslo, Norway

2 Cancer Registry of Norway, Majorstuen, P.O.Box 5313, Oslo, 0304, Norway

3 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

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SpringerPlus 2012, 1:75  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-75

Published: 21 December 2012


Mammographic density (MD) is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and may represent a useful intermediate marker for breast cancer risk. Physical activity (PA) is known to be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. If PA is associated with MD then this would be useful for breast cancer prevention studies. MD was assessed on digitized mammograms using a computer assisted method (Madena) in 2218 postmenopausal women. A questionnaire assessed PA, by asking about the duration and intensity of light, moderate, strenuous PA/week. We used multivariate linear regression models to estimate least square means of percent MD by total and intensity of PA with adjustment for confounders. The mean age (± s.d) was 58.4 (±5.3) and mean BMI was 24.6 (±4.6). We observed a statistically significant inverse association between total PA and MD in the over-weight (BMI = 25.0-29.9) women, where mean MD among women with highest activity (>360 mins/week) was 12.6% (95%CI; 11.2%-14.0%), while among women with no activity it was 15.9% (95 CI; 13.6%-18.2%, p for trend = 0.04). There was no association in the other BMI strata. MD was 12.1% (11.2%-13.0%) in the highest group (> 180 mins/week) of moderate/strenuous activity and in the no activity group 14.8% (14.2%-15.5%, p for trend = 0.001) in the over-weight women. There was no association between light PA and MD in all women combined or in any other BMI strata. We found some evidence of an inverse association between PA and MD among overweight women.

Epidemiology; Mammographic density; Physical activity; Breast cancer; Screening