WCRF/AICR recommendation adherence and breast cancer incidence among postmenopausal women with and without non-modifiable risk factors

Int J Cancer. 2016 Jun 1;138(11):2602-15. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29994. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Taller height, family history of breast cancer, greater number of years of potential fertility and nulliparity are established non-modifiable risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer. Greater adherence to the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) diet, physical activity and body weight recommendations has previously been shown to be associated with lower breast cancer risk. However, no prior studies have evaluated whether women with non-modifiable risk factors receive similar benefits from recommendation adherence compared to women without these risk factors. In the Iowa Women's Health Study prospective cohort, we investigated whether associations of WCRF/AICR recommendation adherence differed by the presence/absence of non-modifiable breast cancer risk factors. Baseline (1986) questionnaire data from 36,626 postmenopausal women were used to create adherence scores for the WCRF/AICR recommendations (maximum score = 8.0). Overall and single recommendation adherence in relation to breast cancer risk (n = 3,189 cases) across levels of non-modifiable risk factors were evaluated using proportional hazards regression. Mean adherence score was 5.0 points (range: 0.5-8.0). Higher adherence scores (score ≥ 6.0 vs. ≤ 3.5, HR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.67-0.87), and adherence to the individual recommendations for body weight and alcohol intake were associated with a lower breast cancer incidence. While not statistically significant among women with more non-modifiable risk factors (score ≥ 6.0 vs. ≤ 3.5, HR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.36-1.63), hazard ratios were comparable to women with the no non-modifiable risk factors (score ≥ 6.0 vs. ≤ 3.5, HR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.49-0.93) (p-interaction = 0.57). WCRF/AICR recommendation adherence is associated with lower breast cancer risk, regardless of non-modifiable risk factor status.

Keywords: body weight; breast cancer; cancer prevention; diet; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health