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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3358-65. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0132.

Green tea, soy, and mammographic density in Singapore Chinese women.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, 1441 Eastlake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


There is increasing evidence from observational studies that breast cancer risk is inversely associated with soy and green tea consumption. We investigated the effects of these two dietary agents on mammographic density, a well-established biomarker for breast cancer risk, in a cross-sectional analysis of mammograms and validated food frequency questionnaires from 3,315 Chinese women in Singapore. Percent mammographic density (PMD) was assessed using a reproducible computer-assisted method. We used generalized linear models to estimate PMD by intake of soy, green tea, and black tea while adjusting for potential confounders. Daily green tea drinkers showed statistically significantly lower PMD (19.5%) than non-tea drinkers (21.7%; P = 0.002) after adjusting for relevant covariates. This difference in PMD between daily green tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers remained statistically significant after adjustment for soy (P = 0.002); the effect was more apparent among lower soy consumers (Q1-Q3; 21.9% versus 19.4%; P = 0.002) than in higher (Q4) consumers (20.9% versus 19.5%; P = 0.32). Black tea intake was unrelated to PMD. Only among postmenopausal women who reported very high soy intake (Q4) compared with those with less soy intake was there any association noted between PMD and soy intake (18.9% versus 20.5%; P = 0.035). Following adjustment for green tea intake, the association between soy and PMD was no longer statistically significant (P = 0.52). Our findings suggest that both regular green tea and high soy intake may have beneficial effects on the breast; the effect of green tea on PMD may be stronger than the effect of soy.

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