Meat, fish and egg intake and risk of breast cancer

Int J Cancer. 2003 Mar 20;104(2):221-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10910.


Intakes of animal protein, meat, and eggs have been associated with breast cancer incidence and mortality in ecological studies, but data from long-term prospective studies are limited. We therefore examined these relationships in the Nurses' Health Study. We followed 88,647 women for 18 years, with 5 assessments of diet by food frequency questionnaire, cumulatively averaged and updated over time. We calculated the relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for risk of developing invasive breast cancer, over categories of nutrient and food intake. During follow-up, 4,107 women developed invasive breast cancer. Compared to the lowest quintile of intake, the RR and 95% CI for the highest quintile of intake were 1.02 (0.92-1.14) for animal protein, 0.93 (0.83-1.05) for red meat and 0.89 (0.79-1.00) for all meat. Results did not differ by menopausal status or family history of breast cancer. We found no evidence that intake of meat or fish during mid-life and later was associated with risk of breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Eggs / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors