Prospective association between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 14;8(11):e79718. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079718. eCollection 2013.


Background: Mechanistic hypotheses suggest a potential effect of dietary fiber on breast carcinogenesis through the modulation of insulin-like growth factor bioactivity, estrogen metabolism and inflammation. An association between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk has been suggested in epidemiological studies but remains inconclusive. In particular, data is lacking regarding the different types of dietary fibers.

Objective: The objective was to investigate the prospective relationship between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk, taking into account different types of dietary fiber (overall, insoluble, soluble and from different food sources: cereals, vegetables, fruits and legumes).

Design: 4684 women from the SU.VI.MAX cohort were included in this analysis as they completed at least three 24h-dietary records within the first two years of follow-up. Among them, 167 incident invasive breast cancers were diagnosed during a median follow-up of 12.6 years (between 1994 and 2007). The associations between quartiles of dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk were characterized using multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: Total fiber intake was not associated with breast cancer risk (HR(Quartile4vs.Quartile1) = 1.29 (95%CI 0.66-2.50), P-trend = 0.5), nor was fiber intake from cereals (P-trend = 0.1), fruits (P-trend = 0.9) and legumes (P-trend = 0.3). In contrast, vegetable fiber intake was related to a decreased risk of breast cancer (HR(Q4vs.Q1) = 0.50 (0.29-0.88), P-trend = 0.03). Overall vegetable intake (in g/day) was not associated with breast cancer risk (P-trend = 0.2).

Conclusion: This prospective study suggests that vegetable fiber intake may contribute to reduce breast cancer risk, in line with experimental mechanistic data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Dietary Fiber*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk

Grant support

Mélanie Deschasaux was supported by a grant from the "Cancéropôle Ile-de-France" (public funding from the Paris region). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.