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Br J Cancer. 2013 Jan 15;108(1):188-92. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.521. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Dietary patterns and survival in German postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.

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Unit of Genetic Epidemiology, Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 581, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Research on the association between dietary patterns and breast cancer survival is very limited.


A prospective follow-up study was conducted in Germany, including 2522 postmenopausal breast cancer patients diagnosed in 2001-2005 with available food frequency questionnaire data. Vital status, causes of death, and recurrences were verified through the end of 2009. Principle component factor analysis was used to identify pre-diagnostic dietary patterns. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated with Cox proportional hazards models.


Two major dietary patterns were identified: 'healthy' (high intakes of vegetables, fruits, vegetable oil, sauces/condiments, and soups/bouillons) and 'unhealthy' (high intakes of red meat, processed meat, and deep-frying fat). Increasing consumption of an 'unhealthy' dietary pattern was associated with an increased risk of non-breast cancer mortality (highest vs lowest quartile: HR, 3.69; 95% CI, 1.66-8.17; P-trend <0.001). No associations with breast cancer-specific mortality and breast cancer recurrence were found. The 'healthy' dietary pattern was inversely associated with overall mortality (HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.47-1.15; P-trend=0.02) and breast cancer recurrence (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.48-1.06; P-trend=0.02) in stage I-IIIa patients only.


Increasing intake of an 'unhealthy' pre-diagnostic dietary pattern may increase the risk of non-breast cancer mortality, whereas increasing intake of a 'healthy' pattern may reduce the risk of overall mortality and breast cancer recurrence.

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