Diet and breast cancer: a review of the prospective observational studies

Cancer. 2007 Jun 15;109(12 Suppl):2712-49. doi: 10.1002/cncr.22654.


The role of diet for the risk of breast cancer is of great interest as a potentially modifiable risk factor. The evidence from prospective observational studies was reviewed and summarized on selected dietary factors, gene-diet interactions, and breast cancer incidence. Dietary factors were considered that, based on their nutritional constituents, are of particular interest in the context of breast cancer: fat intake, biomarkers of fat intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene), serum antioxidants, carbohydrate intake, glycemic index and glycemic load, dairy consumption (including vitamin D), consumption of soy products and isoflavones, green tea, heterocyclic amines, and adolescent diet. The PubMed database was searched for all prospective studies that relate these dietary items to the incidence of breast cancer or consider gene-diet interactions. Among the prospective epidemiologic studies conducted on diet and breast cancer incidence and gene-diet interactions and breast cancer incidence, to date there is no association that is consistent, strong, and statistically significant, with the exception of alcohol intake, overweight, and weight gain. The apparent lack of association between diet and breast cancer may reflect a true absence of association between diet and breast cancer incidence or may be due to measurement error exceeding the variation in the diet studied, lack of sufficient follow-up, and focus on an age range of low susceptibility. The risk of breast cancer can be reduced by avoidance of weight gain in adulthood and limiting the consumption of alcohol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diet*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vegetables


  • Antioxidants