Towards a dietary prevention of hereditary breast cancer

Cancer Causes Control. 2005 Mar;16(2):125-38. doi: 10.1007/s10552-004-2593-8.


Inheritance of a deleterious mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 confers a high lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Variation in penetrance between individuals suggests that factors other than the gene mutation itself may influence the risk of cancer in susceptible women. Several risk factors have been identified which implicate estrogen-induced growth stimulation as a probable contributor to breast cancer pre-disposition. The protein products of both of these genes appear to help preserve genomic integrity via their participation in the DNA damage response and repair pathways. To date, the evidence for a cancer-protective role of dietary nutrients, for the most part those with antioxidant properties, has been based on women without any known genetic pre-disposition and it is important to identify and evaluate dietary factors which may modify the risk of cancer in BRCA carriers. Here we propose that diet modification may modulate the risk of hereditary breast cancer by decreasing DNA damage (possibly linked to estrogen exposure) or by enhancing DNA repair. The prevention of hereditary breast cancer through diet is an attractive complement to current management strategies and deserves exploration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1 / physiology
  • Genes, BRCA2 / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Penetrance
  • Risk Factors