Dietary intakes of ω-6 and ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of breast cancer

Anne C M Thiébaut, Véronique Chajès, Mariette Gerber, Marie Christine Boutron-Ruault, Virginie Joulin, Gilbert Lenoir, Franco Berrino, Eio Riboli, Jacques Béniehou, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Experimental studies suggest detrimental effects of ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and beneficial effects of ω-3 PI 1 As on mammary carcinogenesis, possibly in interaction with antioxidants. However, PI FA food sources are diverse in human diets and few epidemiologic studies have examined whether associations between dietary PUFAs and breast cancer risk vary according to food sources or antioxidant intakes. The relationship between individual PUFA intakes estimated from diet history questionnaires and breast cancer risk was examined among 56,007 French women. During 8 years of follow-up, 1,650 women developed invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer risk was not related to any dietary PUFA overall; however, opposite associations were seen according to food sources, suggesting other potential effects than PUFA per se. Breast cancer risk was inversely associated with α-linolenic acid (ALA) intake from fruit and vegetables [highest vs. lowest quintile, hazard ratio (HR) 0.74; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.63, 0.88; p trend <0.0001], and from vegetable oils (HR 0.83; 95% CI 0.71, 0.97: p trend 0.017). Conversely, breast cancer risk was positively related to ALA intake from nut mixes (p trend 0.004) and processed foods (p trend 0.068), as was total ALA intake among women in the highest quintile of dietary vitamin E (p trend 0.036). A signiicant interaction was also found between ω-6 and long-chain co-3 PUFAs, with breast cancer risk inversely related to long-chain co-3 PUFAs in women belonging to the highest quintile of co-6 PUFAs (p interaction 0.042). These results emphasize the need to consider food sources, as well as interactions between fatty acids and with antioxidants, when evaluating associations between PUFA intakes and breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-931
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2009


  • Breast cancer
  • Fatty acids
  • Prevention
  • Prospective studies
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)

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    Thiébaut, A. C. M., Chajès, V., Gerber, M., Boutron-Ruault, M. C., Joulin, V., Lenoir, G., Berrino, F., Riboli, E., Béniehou, J., & Clavel-Chapelon, F. (2009). Dietary intakes of ω-6 and ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of breast cancer. International Journal of Cancer, 124(4), 924-931.