Associations between dietary patterns and the risk of breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Yunjun Xiao, Junjie Xia, Liping Li, Yuebin Ke, Jinquan Cheng, Yaojie Xie, Winnie Chu, Polly Cheung, Jean Hee Kim, Graham A. Colditz, Rulla M. Tamimi, Xuefen Su

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiologic evidence suggests that certain dietary patterns were associated with breast cancer risk, but the results have been inconclusive. We assessed the associations between different dietary patterns and the risk of breast cancer by conducting a meta-analysis of observational studies. Methods: Relevant articles were searched in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane library databases through September 2017. Multivariable-adjusted relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) comparing the highest and lowest categories of Western and prudent dietary patterns were combined by using the random-effects meta-analyses. Results: We identified 32 eligible articles including 14 cohort and 18 case-control studies (34 Western and 35 prudent studies). The pooled analyses found that a Western dietary pattern was associated with a 14% increased risk (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.02, 1.28), whereas a prudent dietary pattern was associated with an 18% reduced risk of breast cancer (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.75, 0.89). In addition, sub-group analyses showed that the positive association between a Western dietary pattern and breast cancer risk was significant among postmenopausal (RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.06, 1.35), but not premenopausal women (RR 1.18, 95% CI 0.99, 1.40), and significant for hormone receptor-positive tumors (RR 1.18, 95% CI 1.04, 1.33), but not receptor-negative tumors (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.83, 1.12). In contrast, the inverse association between a prudent dietary pattern and breast cancer was significant in premenopausal (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.61, 0.98), but not postmenopausal women (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.74, 1.03), and significant for both hormone receptor-positive and receptor-negative tumors. Conclusions: The results of the current meta-analysis suggest a possible increased risk of breast cancer associated with a Western dietary pattern and a reduced risk with a prudent dietary pattern. Large-scale cohort studies with a high quality need to be conducted to further confirm the findings of the current meta-analysis. As dietary patterns are modifiable, these findings may provide viable strategies for breast cancer prevention through changes in dietary intake.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 29 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • Dietary patterns
  • Meta-analysis
  • Observational studies


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