Selected antioxidants and risk of hormone receptor-defined invasive breast cancers among postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1009-18. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.4.1009.


Background: Few studies have evaluated carotenoids and vitamins C and E in association with the risk of breast cancers defined by estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status.

Objective: We examined the associations between dietary and supplemental intakes of these nutrients and risk of breast cancers jointly defined by both ER and PR status among postmenopausal women.

Design: Our investigation was conducted in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. After following 84 805 women for an average of 7.6 y, 2879 incident invasive breast cancer cases had been ascertained, of whom 2509 had receptor data. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the associations of interest.

Results: Dietary alpha-carotene (highest versus lowest quintile: RR = 0.83; 95% CL = 0.70, 0.99; P for trend = 0.019), beta-carotene (highest versus lowest quintile: RR = 0.78; 95% CL = 0.66, 0.94; P for trend = 0.021), and lycopene (highest versus lowest quintile: RR = 0.85; 95% CL = 0.73, 1.00; P for trend = 0.064) were inversely associated with risk of ER+PR+breast cancer, but not with other breast cancer groups jointly defined by ER and PR status. Total or supplemental beta-carotene and dietary intakes of lutein+zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin were not associated with breast cancers defined by ER and PR status. Vitamin E (regardless of source) and dietary vitamin C were not associated with breast cancer. However, total and supplemental vitamin C intake had weak positive associations with breast cancer overall.

Conclusion: Dietary intake of certain carotenoids might be differentially associated with risk of invasive breast cancers jointly defined by ER and PR status among postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / analysis
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid