Preschool diet and adult risk of breast cancer

Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 1;118(3):749-54. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21407.


Events before puberty may affect adult risk of breast cancer. We examined whether diet during preschool age may affect a woman's risk of breast cancer later in life. We conducted a case-control study including 582 women with breast cancer and 1,569 controls free of breast cancer selected from participants in the Nurses' Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study II. Information concerning childhood diet of the nurses at ages 3-5 years was obtained from the mothers of the participants with a 30-item food-frequency questionnaire. An increased risk of breast cancer was observed among woman who had frequently consumed French fries at preschool age. For one additional serving of French fries per week, the odds ratio (OR) for breast cancer adjusted for adult life breast cancer risk factors was 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.12-1.44). Consumption of whole milk was associated with a slightly decreased risk of breast cancer (covariate-adjusted OR for every additional glass of milk per day = 0.90; 95% CI = 0.82-0.99). Intake of none of the nutrients calculated was related to the risk of breast cancer risk in this study. These data suggest a possible association between diet before puberty and the subsequent risk of breast cancer. Differential recall of preschool diet by the mothers of cases and controls has to be considered as a possible explanation for the observed associations. Further studies are needed to evaluate whether the association between preschool diet and breast cancer is reproducible in prospective data not subject to recall bias.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers*
  • Nurses*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires