The role of diet in the development of breast cancer: a case-control study of patients with breast cancer, benign epithelial hyperplasia and fibrocystic disease of the breast

Br J Cancer. 1991 Jul;64(1):187-91. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1991.268.


A case-control study was undertaken to investigate the role of diet in women with breast cancer, and in two groups of women with benign breast disease: epithelial hyperplasia, and fibrocystic disease without hyperplasia. The study provides data which suggest that the consumption of red meat, savoury meals (pizza, pies, stew, etc.) and of starches is disadvantageous, while the consumption of chicken and fish, and of fruit, appears to be beneficial. These patterns were present for both the breast cancer patients and the patients with benign epithelial hyperplasia. One-third of breast cancer patients had changed their diet after their diagnosis, compared to only around 12% in controls and patients with benign breast disease. Overall, the women studied had changed their diet to reduce their intake of sugars, dairy products and meat, and increased their intake of poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables over the past decade; but the breast cancer group was less likely to have made this change.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Diseases / etiology*
  • Breast Diseases / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Menarche
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values