Diet and breast cancer

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:247-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb04117.x.


The preponderance of evidence suggests a role for fat and alcohol as risk factors for breast cancer. The role of milk is more controversial with some studies suggesting that milk is a risk factor and others that consumption of milk is protective against breast cancer. No other major nutrient appears to play a significant role in increasing breast cancer risk. On the other hand, there is increasing evidence that a variety of micronutrients and hormones appear to have significant anticancer activity. These range from steroids such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its analysis to indoles, isothiocyanates, and isoflavone derivatives. These compounds act directly by interfering with cyclins and promoting apoptosis as well as indirectly by altering estrogen metabolism in a favorable direction. These effects are not merely theoretical actions in cell culture and tissue explants; they have been demonstrated in human patients as a range of studies have demonstrated.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Catechin / therapeutic use
  • Cattle
  • Coumaric Acids / therapeutic use
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Genistein / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Indoles / therapeutic use
  • Isothiocyanates / therapeutic use
  • Limonene
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use


  • Coumaric Acids
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Indoles
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Terpenes
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Catechin
  • Limonene
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • Genistein