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Lancet. 1991 May 18;337(8751):1197-200.

Dietary effects on breast-cancer risk in Singapore.

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Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore.


It is suspected that diet influences the risk of getting breast cancer. A study of diet and breast cancer was done among 200 Singapore Chinese women with histologically confirmed disease and 420 matched controls. A quantitative food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess intakes of selected nutrients and foods 1 year before interview. Daily intakes were computed and risk analysed after adjustment for concomitant risk factors. In premenopausal women, high intakes of animal proteins and red meat were associated with increased risk. Decreased risk was associated with high intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), beta-carotene, soya proteins, total soya products, a high PUFA to saturated fatty acid ratio, and a high proportion of soya to total protein. In multiple analysis, the variables which were significant after adjustment for each other were red meat (p less than 0.001) as a predisposing factor, and PUFA (p = 0.02), beta-carotene (p = 0.003), and soya protein (p = 0.02) as protective factors. The analysis of dietary variables in postmenopausal women gave uniformly non-significant results. Our finding that soya products may protect against breast cancer in younger women is of interest since these foods are rich in phyto-oestrogens.

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