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Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Dietary Fat

Risk is 15 percent higher when fat intake is 40 percent compared with 20 percent

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- There is a direct association between dietary fat intake and the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women, according to the results of a study published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Anne C.M. Thiebaut, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed data on 188,736 postmenopausal women and gathered information on their fat intake from a 124-item food-frequency questionnaire.

The average follow-up period was 4.4 years, in which time there were 3,501 cases of invasive breast cancer among the cohort. Those who derived 40.1 percent of their energy intake from fat accounted for 434 cases per 100,000 person-years, versus 392 cases per 100,000 person-years for those who derived 20.3 percent of energy from fat.

The association between breast cancer and fat intake was found across all types of fat, although saturated fat had a higher incidence ratio than monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat (1.13, 1.12 and 1.10, respectively).

"If the association is causal, dietary fat could influence the initiation and growth of breast tumors through several mechanisms, including the stimulation of endogenous steroid hormone production, the modulation of immune function and the regulation of gene expression," the authors write.

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