Onion and Garlic Intake and Breast Cancer, a Case-Control Study in Puerto Rico

Nutr Cancer. 2020;72(5):791-800. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2019.1651349. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Studies show an inverse association between onion and garlic intake and risk of cancers of the lung, prostate, and stomach. There is limited evidence on the association between onion and garlic intake and breast cancer. We assessed this association in a population-based, case-control study in Puerto Rico. Incident, primary breast cancer cases (n = 314) were identified among women aged 30-79 from hospital and clinic records. Controls (n = 346) were women with no history of cancer other than nonmelanoma skin cancer, residents of the same area. Dietary intake was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. Total onion and garlic intake included sofrito (a popular garlic- and onion-based condiment) intake frequency. Unconditional logistic regression assessed the association between onion and garlic consumption and breast cancer adjusting for age, education, parity, family history, body mass index, age at menarche, total energy, and smoking. Inverse associations with breast cancer were observed for moderate (OR (odds ratio) = 0.59, 95% CI (confidence interval): 0.35, 1.01) and high consumption (OR = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.30, 0.87) compared to low consumption of onion and garlic (Ptrend = 0.02). Results were similar when stratified by menopausal status. Study results suggest that high onion and garlic consumption is protective against breast cancer in this population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Garlic
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Onions
  • Puerto Rico
  • Risk Factors
  • Vegetables


  • Antioxidants