Objective: To determine the role of fruit and vegetable consumption and dietary intake of folic acid and related nutrients such as methionine, cysteine and alcohol in the aetiology of breast cancer.
Design: Population based case-control study.
Setting: Part of the European Community Multicentre Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Cancer of the Breast (EURAMIC) in Berlin, Germany.
Subjects: As part of the EURAMIC study, dietary intake data were collected in 43 postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1991 and 1992 in Berlin, Germany, and compared to 106 population-based controls.
Results: Odds ratios (ORs) adjusted for major risk factors of breast cancer but not for total energy intake showed a non-significant inverse association between a high intake of vegetables (OR=0.76, 95% CI=0.48-1.20) and fruits (OR=0.74, 95% CI=0.48-1.15) and breast cancer. Once results were adjusted for total energy intake the associations became much weaker (vegetables: R=0.86, 95% CI=0.51-1.46; fruits: OR=0.82, 95% CI=0.51-1.32). For all nutrients, the effect of energy adjustment was more profound and the inverse associations disappeared when results were adjusted for energy intake (total folate-not energy adjusted: OR = 0.79, 95% CI=0.51-1.21; energy adjusted: OR=1.14, 95% CI=0.73-1.79; folate equivalents-not energy adjusted: OR=0.81, 95% CI=0.53-1.23; energy adjusted: OR=1.16, 95% CI=0.78-1.74; methionine-not energy adjusted: OR=0.60, 95% CI=0.35-1.03; energy adjusted: OR=1.29, 95% CI=0.76-2.19; cysteine-not energy adjusted: OR=0.52, 95% CI=0.29-0.94; energy adjusted: OR=1.22, 95% CI=0.75-1.97). Alcohol intake was inversely associated with breast cancer in a non-significant way, possibly due to the relatively low alcohol intake of the study population.
Conclusions: The results of this study do not provide firm evidence that a high intake of fruits and vegetables, folic acid, methionine or cysteine reduces the risk of getting breast cancer.