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Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Feb 15;147(4):342-52.

Adipose tissue omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content and breast cancer in the EURAMIC study. European Community Multicenter Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Breast Cancer.

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


The fatty acid content of adipose tissue in postmenopausal breast cancer cases and controls from five European countries in the European Community Multicenter Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Cancer (EURAMIC) breast cancer study (1991-1992) was used to explore the hypothesis that fatty acids of the omega-3 family inhibit breast cancer and that the degree of inhibition depends on background levels of omega-6 polyunsaturates. Considered in isolation, the level of omega-3 or omega-6 fat in adipose tissue displayed little consistent association with breast cancer across study centers. The ratio of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids to total omega-6 fat showed an inverse association with breast cancer in four of five centers. In Malaga, Spain, the odds ratio for the highest tertile relative to the lowest reached 0.32 (95% confidence interval 0.13-0.82). In this center, total omega-6 fatty acid was strongly associated with breast cancer. With all centers pooled, the odds ratio for long-chain omega-3 to total omega-6 reached 0.80 for the second tertile and 0.65 for the third tertile, a downward trend bordering on statistical significance (p for trend = 0.055). While not definitive, these results provide evidence for the hypothesis that the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fat may play a role in breast cancer.

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