Increased Breast Cancer Risk Associated with Greater Fat Intake
Eating a high-fat diet may lead to an increased risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Although environmental and animal studies have suggested that greater fat consumption may increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, the results of epidemiologic studies have been inconclusive.
Anne Thibaut, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues asked 188,736 postmenopausal women how much and how often they ate certain foods to determine how fat intake affects breast cancer risk. Of the women surveyed, 3,501 developed invasive breast cancer.
The researchers found that doubling fat intake, from 20 percent to 40 percent, was associated with a 15 percent increase in breast cancer risk. The increase in risk was similar for all types of fatsaturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
"Meanwhile, results from this large prospective cohort with a wide intake range should contribute to the ongoing debate about the association between dietary fat and the risk of the breast cancer," the authors write.
In an accompanying editorial, Stephanie Smith-Warner, Ph.D., and Meir Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, propose that interventions that focus on controlling the amount of body fat, rather than fat intake, would be more effective in preventing breast cancer. "The modest associations that have been observed for dietary fat and breast cancer risk in observational studies and clinical trials stand in sharp contrast to the robust evidence for a strong link between [body fat] and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer," the authors write.