Intake of fruits, vegetables, folic acid and related nutrients and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Public Health Nutr. 1998 Sep;1(3):147-56. doi: 10.1079/phn19980024.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cysteine / administration & dosage
  • Diet*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Methionine / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*
  • Women's Health


  • Folic Acid
  • Methionine
  • Cysteine