Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk in Asian American women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1145-54. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26915. Epub 2009 Feb 11.


Background: The role of diet as a cause of breast cancer in Asian Americans has not been adequately studied.

Objective: We investigated the association between dietary patterns and breast cancer risk in Asian Americans.

Design: This population-based case-control study in Los Angeles County compared dietary patterns between 1248 Asian American women with incident breast cancer and 1148 age-, ethnicity-, and neighborhood-matched controls. The relation between dietary patterns and serum concentrations of estrogens, androgens, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) was investigated in 2172 postmenopausal control women.

Results: We used a scoring method proposed by Trichopoulou et al (1) and found that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was inversely associated with risk; the odds ratio (OR) was 0.65 (95% CI: 0.44, 0.95) in women with the highest scores (> or = 8; most adherent) compared with those with the lowest scores (0-3; P for trend = 0.009), after adjustment for key covariates. We also used factor analysis and identified 3 dietary patterns (Western-meat/starch, ethnic-meat/starch, and vegetables/soy). In a combined index of the 3 patterns, women who were high consumers of Western and ethnic meat/starch and low consumers of the vegetables/soy diets showed the highest risk (OR: 2.19; 95% CI: 1.40, 3.42; P for trend = 0.0005). SHBG concentrations were 23% lower in women with a high intake of the meat/starch pattern and a low intake of the vegetables/soy pattern than in those with a low intake of the meat/starch pattern and a high intake of the vegetables/soy pattern (P for trend = 0.069).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that a diet characterized by a low intake of meat/starches and a high intake of legumes is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in Asian Americans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androgens / blood
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Asian Americans*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Diet*
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Fabaceae
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Soybeans
  • Starch


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Starch