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Nutr Cancer. 1987;10(4):205-14.

Dietary factors and the risk of breast cancer.

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Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy.


We evaluated the risk of breast cancer in relation to the frequency of consumption of a few selected dietary items. Data were used from a case-control study of 1,108 histologically confirmed breast cancer patients and 1,281 control subjects who were in the hospital for acute conditions unrelated to any of the established or suspected risk factors for breast cancer. Moderately elevated risk estimates were associated with higher levels of fat consumption in seasonings [butter, margarine, and oil, relative risk (RR) = 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.06-1.71] and meat (RR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.12-1.65), whereas a reduced risk (RR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.34-0.51) was associated with a more frequent green vegetable consumption. It was not possible to show that these associations were incidental, because allowance for several identified potential confounding factors, including the major identified or potential risk factors for breast cancer, did not materially modify the risk estimates. Further, no appreciable interaction emerged with age or menopausal status, because the diet-related risk estimates were similar in pre- or postmenopausal women. However, the implications of these findings in terms of specific micronutrients (e.g., retinol or beta-carotene) and biological correlates are still unclear. Alcohol consumption was significantly greater among breast cancer cases, with a multivariate risk estimate of 2.92 for the highest level. Thus, the present findings confirm that various aspects of diet may influence the risk of breast cancer, although the small amount of available knowledge does introduce serious uncertainties in any discussion of the potential implications in terms of prevention on a public health scale.

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