Breast Cancer: Does Saturated Fat Consumption Matter?

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What You Need To Know: High intake of saturated fats may be associated with an increased risk of certain subtypes of breast cancer.

The Evidence: Sabina Sieri, Ph.D., of the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, and colleagues analyzed data from a prospective cohort of 337,327 women to assess the association between fat intake and development of breast cancer subtypes.

The researchers found that

  • High intake of fat was associated with increased risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, progesterone receptor (PR)-positive disease, but not ER-negative or PR-negative disease, for the highest versus lowest quintiles of total fat (hazard ratio [HR], 1.20; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.00 to 1.45) and saturated fat (HR, 1.28; 95 percent CI, 1.09 to 1.52).
  • High intake of saturated fat was associated with significantly greater risk of human epidermal growth factor 2 receptor (HER2)-negative disease.

“High saturated fat intake particularly increases risk of receptor-positive disease, suggesting saturated fat involvement in the etiology of this breast cancer subtype,” the authors write.

My Take: A definite link between dietary fat intake and breast cancer has not been clearly established. However, I think that there may be a very modest effect when comparing extremism of fat intake. We may better understand the relationship between dietary elements and breast cancer risk as we better stratify by specific breast cancer subtype. For now, I would take a prudent approach to dietary fat intake. You may get a benefit in terms of cardiovascular risk, if not more. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2014) dju068 doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju068; First published online: April 9, 2014

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