Background: International comparisons and case-control studies have suggested a positive relation between dietary fat intake and breast cancer risk, but prospective studies, most of them involving postmenopausal women, have not supported this association. We conducted a prospective analysis of the relation between dietary fat intake and breast cancer risk among premenopausal women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II.
Methods: Dietary fat intake and breast cancer risk were assessed among 90 655 premenopausal women aged 26 to 46 years in 1991. Fat intake was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire at baseline in 1991 and again in 1995. Breast cancers were self-reported and confirmed by review of pathology reports. Multivariable relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: During 8 years of follow-up, 714 women developed incident invasive breast cancer. Relative to women in the lowest quintile of fat intake, women in the highest quintile of intake had a slight increased risk of breast cancer (RR = 1.25, 95% CI = 0.98 to 1.59; P(trend) =.06). The increase was associated with intake of animal fat but not vegetable fat; RRs for the increasing quintiles of animal fat intake were 1.00 (referent), 1.28, 1.37, 1.54, and 1.33 (95% CI = 1.02 to 1.73; P(trend) =.002). Intakes of both saturated and monounsaturated fat were related to modestly elevated breast cancer risk. Among food groups contributing to animal fat, red meat and high-fat dairy foods were each associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Conclusions: Intake of animal fat, mainly from red meat and high-fat dairy foods, during premenopausal years is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.