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Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Apr;36(2):431-8. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study.

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Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.



Reports of relationships between dietary fibre intake and breast cancer have been inconsistent. Previous cohort studies have been limited by a narrow range of intakes.


Women who developed invasive breast cancer, 350 post-menopausally and 257 pre-menopausally, during 240,959 person-years of follow-up in the UK Women's Cohort Study (UKWCS) were studied. This cohort has 35,792 subjects with a wide range of exposure to dietary fibre with intakes of total fibre in the lowest quintile of <20 g/day up to >30 g/day in the top quintile. Fibre and breast cancer relationships were explored using Cox regression modelling adjusted for measurement error. Effects of fibre, adjusting for confounders were examined for pre- and post-menopausal women separately.


In pre-menopausal, but not post-menopausal women a statistically significant inverse relationship was found between total fibre intake and risk of breast cancer (P for trend = 0.01). The top quintile of fibre intake was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.48 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.24-0.96] compared with the lowest quintile. Pre-menopausally, fibre from cereals was inversely associated with risk of breast cancer (P for trend = 0.05) and fibre from fruit had a borderline inverse relationship (P for trend = 0.09). A further model including dietary folate strengthened the significance of the inverse relationship between total fibre and pre-menopausal breast cancer.


These findings suggest that in pre-menopausal women, total fibre is protective against breast cancer; in particular, fibre from cereals and possibly fruit.

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