Types of dietary fat and breast cancer: A pooled analysis of cohort studies

Stephanie A. Smith-Warner, Donna Spiegelman, Hans Olov Adami, W. Lawrence Beeson, Piet A. Van Den Brandt, Aaron R. Folsom, Gary E. Fraser, Jo L. Freudenheim, R. Alexandra Goldbohm, Saxon Graham, Lawrence H. Kushi, Anthony B. Miller, Thomas E. Rohan, Frank E. Speizer, Paolo Toniolo, Walter C. Willett, Alicja Wolk, Anne Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, David J. Hunter

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Recently, there has been interest in whether intakes of specific types of fat are associated with breast cancer risk independently of other types of fat, but results have been inconsistent. We identified 8 prospective studies that met predefined criteria and analyzed their primary data using a standardized approach. Holding total energy intake constant, we calculated relative risks for increments of 5% of energy for each type of fat compared with an equivalent amount of energy from carbohydrates or from other types of fat. We combined study-specific relative risks using a random effects model. In the pooled database, 7,329 incident invasive breast cancer cases occurred among 351,821 women. The pooled relative risks (95% confidence intervals [CI]) for an increment of 5% of energy were 1.09 (1.00-1.19) for saturated, 0.93 (0.84-1.03) for monounsaturated and 1.05 (0.96-1.16) for polyunsaturated fat compared with equivalent energy intake from carbohydrates. For a 5% of energy increment, the relative risks were 1.18 (95% CI 0.99-1.42) for substituting saturated for monounsaturated fat, 0.98 (95% CI 0.85-1.12) for substituting saturated for polyunsaturated fat and 0.87 (95% CI 0.73-1.02) for substituting monounsaturated for polyunsaturated fat. No associations were observed for animal or vegetable fat intakes. These associations were not modified by menopausal status. These data are suggestive of only a weak positive association with substitution of saturated fat for carbohydrate consumption; none of the other types of fat examined was significantly associated with breast cancer risk relative to an equivalent reduction in carbohydrate consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-774
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Cohort studies
  • Diet
  • Fat
  • Pooling


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