Fish consumption and breast cancer risk: an ecological study

Nutr Cancer. 1989;12(1):61-8. doi: 10.1080/01635588909514002.


There is experimental evidence that fish oils protect against mammary carcinogens in animals. However, there has been little investigation of the possible relevance of this finding to breast cancer in humans. We compared breast cancer incidence and mortality rates with estimates of the consumption of fish and other foods and nutrients in the countries for which reliable data are available. The results showed an inverse association between percent calories from fish and breast cancer rates that was consistent with a protective effect. This analysis confirmed the finding of others that dietary fat is strongly associated with international variation in breast cancer rates. It also showed that of the dietary components considered, percent calories from fish was the factor most strongly correlated with breast cancer rates after statistical adjustment for dietary fat intake. This result is therefore in accord with animal experimental data and suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in certain fish may protect against breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Products*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Fish Oils