Role of vitamins in the risk, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Feb;16(1):19-25. doi: 10.1097/00001703-200402000-00005.


Purpose of review: This article presents an overview of the role of vitamins in the risk, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer, with emphasis on current evidence from English-language articles published since 1 August 2002 and indexed in MEDLINE.

Recent findings: Findings from epidemiologic studies that have evaluated vitamin A and carotenoids in relation to breast cancer risk have been inconclusive. The available data, especially from prospective studies, do not support an association between vitamins E and C and risk of breast cancer. Recent studies suggest that folate plays an important role in the prevention of breast cancer, particularly among women consuming alcohol. Limited data also support a potential role of vitamin D in the prevention of breast cancer.

Summary: High intake of folate or adequate circulating levels of folate may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Adequate folate levels may be particularly important for women who are at higher risk of breast cancer because of high alcohol consumption. The inverse association between vitamin D and risk of breast cancer needs to be evaluated in more studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B 6 / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Ascorbic Acid