Dietary intake of fish, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and survival after breast cancer: A population-based follow-up study on Long Island, New York

Cancer. 2015 Jul 1;121(13):2244-52. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29329. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Background: In laboratory experiments, ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been found to reduce inflammatory eicosanoids resulting from ω-6 PUFA metabolism via competitive inhibition, and the ω-3-induced cytotoxic environment increases apoptosis and reduces cell growth in breast cancer cells. To the authors' knowledge, epidemiologic investigations regarding whether dietary ω-3 PUFA intake benefits survival after breast cancer are limited and inconsistent.

Methods: The authors used resources from a population-based follow-up study conducted on Long Island, New York, among 1463 women newly diagnosed with first primary breast cancer who were interviewed an average of approximately 3 months after diagnosis to assess risk and prognostic factors, including dietary intake (using a food frequency questionnaire). Vital status was determined through 2011, yielding a median follow-up of 14.7 years and 485 deaths. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: All-cause mortality was reduced among women with breast cancer reporting the highest quartile of intake (compared with never) for tuna (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55-0.92), other baked/broiled fish (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58-0.97), and the dietary long-chain ω-3 PUFAs docosahexaenoic acid (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55-0.92) and eicosapentaenoic acid (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58-0.97).

Conclusions: All-cause mortality was reduced by 16% to 34% among women with breast cancer who reported a high intake of fish and long-chain ω-3 PUFAs. Long-chain ω-3 PUFA intake from fish and other dietary sources may provide a potential strategy to improve survival after breast cancer.

Keywords: all-cause mortality; breast cancer; polyunsaturated fatty acids PUFAs; survival.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Seafood*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated