Are imprecise methods obscuring a relation between fat and breast cancer?

Lancet. 2003 Jul 19;362(9379):212-4. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)13913-X.


Pooled analyses of cohort studies show no relation between fat intake and breast-cancer risk. However, food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) methods used in these studies are prone to measurement error. We assessed diet with an FFQ and a detailed 7-day food diary in 13070 women between 1993 and 1997. We compared 168 breast-cancer cases incident by 2000 with four matched controls. Risk of breast cancer was associated with saturated-fat intake measured with the food diary (hazard ratio 1.22 [95% CI 1.06-1.40], p=0.005, per quintile increase in energy-adjusted fat intake), but not with saturated fat measured with the FFQ (1.10 [0.94-1.29], p=0.23). Dietary measurement error might explain the absence of a significant association between dietary fat and breast-cancer risk in cohort studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Records*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats