Adolescent intakes of vitamin D and calcium and incidence of proliferative benign breast disease

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jul;134(2):783-91. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2091-8. Epub 2012 May 24.


Vitamin D and calcium have been shown to have protective effects against breast cancer development in animal studies. Vitamin D and calcium play important anticarcinogenic roles in animal studies. Exposures between menarche and first birth may be important in breast development and future breast cancer risk. However, the relations between adolescent vitamin D and calcium intake and the risk of proliferative benign breast disease (BBD), a marker of increased breast cancer risk, have not yet been evaluated. We examined these associations in the Nurses' Health Study II. Among the 29,480 women who completed an adolescent diet questionnaire in 1998, 682 proliferative BBD cases were identified and confirmed by centralized pathology review between 1991 and 2001. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards regression and adjusted for potential confounders. A suggestive inverse association was observed between adolescent total vitamin D intake and proliferative BBD. Women in the highest quintile of vitamin D intake during adolescence had a 21 % lower risk (multivariate HR (95 % CI): 0.79 (0.61, 1.01), p-trend = 0.07) of proliferative BBD than women in the lowest quintile. Results were essentially the same when the analysis was restricted to prospective cases (n = 142) diagnosed after return of the adolescent diet questionnaire and independent of adult vitamin D intake. Adolescent total milk intake was positively associated with proliferative BBD (≥3 servings/day vs. <1 serving/day HR (95 % CI): 1.41 (0.91, 2.17), p-trend = 0.03), after additional adjustment for total vitamin D. Calcium intake during adolescence was not associated with proliferative BBD (p-trend = 0.91). Vitamin D intake during adolescence may be important in the earlier stage of breast carcinogenesis. These findings, if corroborated, may suggest new pathways and strategies for breast cancer prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Breast Diseases / prevention & control
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium