Dietary fibre and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study

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Journal: International Journal of Epidemiology. 2007 Jan 24; [E-publication ahead of print]

Authors and affiliation: Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC. Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

PMID: 17251246

Background: Reports of relationships between dietary fibre intake and breast cancer have been inconsistent. Previous cohort studies have been limited by a narrow range of intakes.

Methods: Women who developed invasive breast cancer, 350 post-menopausally and 257 pre-menopausally, during 240,959 person-years of follow-up in the UK Women's Cohort Study (UKWCS) were studied. This cohort has 35,792 subjects with a wide range of exposure to dietary fiber with intakes of total fiber in the lowest quintile of <20 g/day up to >30 g/day in the top quintile.

Fiber and breast cancer relationships were explored using Cox regression modeling adjusted for measurement error. Effects of fiber, adjusting for confounders, were examined for pre- and post-menopausal women separately.

Results: In pre-menopausal, but not post-menopausal women a statistically significant inverse relationship was found between total fiber intake and risk of breast cancer (P for trend = 0.01).

The top quintile of fiber intake was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.48 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.24-0.96] compared with the lowest quintile. Pre-menopausally, fiber from cereals was inversely associated with risk of breast cancer (P for trend = 0.05) and fiber from fruit had a borderline inverse relationship (P for trend = 0.09).

A further model including dietary folate strengthened the significance of the inverse relationship between total fiber and pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that in pre-menopausal women, total fiber is protective against breast cancer; in particular, fiber from cereals and possibly fruit.

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