Consumption of sweet foods and breast cancer risk in Italy

Ann Oncol. 2006 Feb;17(2):341-5. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdj051. Epub 2005 Oct 25.


Background: The relation between the intake of sugar and sweets and the risk of breast cancer has been considered in ecological, prospective and case-control studies, but the results are unclear. We analyzed such a relation in a case-control study conducted between 1991 and 1994 in Italy.

Patients and methods: Cases were 2569 women with histologically confirmed incident breast cancer and controls were 2588 women admitted to hospital for acute, non-neoplastic, non-hormone-related conditions. Information on diet was based on an interviewer-administered questionnaire tested for reproducibility and validity. The odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed by multiple logistic regression equations.

Results: Compared with women with the lowest tertile of intake, women in the highest tertile of intake of desserts (including biscuits, brioches, cakes, puffs and ice-cream) and sugars (including sugar, honey, jam, marmalade and chocolate) had multivariate ORs of 1.19 (95% CI 1.02-1.39) and 1.19 (95% CI 1.02-1.38), respectively. The results were similar in strata of age, body mass index, total energy intake and other covariates.

Conclusions: We found a direct association between breast cancer risk and consumption of sweet foods with high glycemic index and load, which increase insulin and insulin growth factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Carbohydrates