Preschool Diet and Adult Risk of Breast Cancer

International Journal of Cancer Aug 10, 2005 

Michels KB, Rosner BA, Chumlea WC, Colditz GA, Willett WC.

These authors are associated with Harvard Medical School.


Events before puberty may affect adult risk of breast cancer.  

We examined whether diet during preschool age may affect a woman's risk of breast cancer later in life.  

We conducted a case-control study including 582 women with breast cancer and 1,569 controls free of breast cancer selected from participants in the Nurses' Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study II.  

Information concerning childhood diet of the nurses at ages 3-5 years was obtained from the mothers of the participants with a 3D-item food-frequency questionnaire.  

An increased risk of breast cancer was observed among woman who had frequently consumed French fries at preschool age. 

For one additional serving of French fries per week, the odds ratio for breast cancer adjusted for adult life breast cancer risk factors was increased by 27%.

These data suggest a possible association between diet before puberty and the subsequent risk of breast cancer.


"Factors in early life may playa role in the etiology of chronic disease."  

Fetal, infant, and early life nutrition are predictive and linked to adult cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.  

Breast cancer may be linked to hormonal factors that are influenced by early life diet.  

An energy-rich diet during puberty and adolescence affects the growth of the mammary glands and increases the risk of breast cancer in adulthood.  

This study was done on female registered nurses. The authors evaluated a number of factors, including a number of dietary factors, age of menarche, number of children, age at birth of first child, body mass index, and family history of breast cancer.

The dietary factors assessed included:

Servings per day of:

Whole milk, skim or low fat milk, cheese, margarine, butter, apples, oranges, orange juice, eggs, ground beef, meat as main dish, meat as a sandwich, bread, potatoes, cereal, cookies, multiple vitamins, cod liver oil.

Servings per week of:

Ice cream, cabbage or coleslaw, broccoli, raw carrots, cooked carrots, cooked spinach, hot dogs, chicken, fish or tuna, liver, rice, and French fries.

Results show that the "regular consumption of French fries was associated with a significant increase risk of breast cancer, with a 27% increase with one additional serving per week." [WOW!]  

[My review of the raw data printed in this article indicates that "one additional daily" serving of ground beef was associated with a 44% increase of adult breast cancer.]  

The relation of ground beef consumption with breast cancer indicates that ground beef and French fries "might have been customarily consumed together."  

[Recall, that the 44% increased risk of adult breast cancer was associated with "one additional" daily consumption of ground beef, while the 27% increase risk of adult breast cancer was associated with "one additional" weekly serving of French fries. The authors note that the 27% increased risk of breast cancer from one additional serving of French fries per week is the most statistically significant association.]  

No important relation was found between the consumption of total calories, protein, carbohydrates, vegetable fat, animal fat, saturated fat, fiber, sucrose, folate, vitamin A, carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, or iron at ages 3 - 5 and adult risk of breast cancer.


These authors found a "significant association between frequent consumption of French fries during preschool age and breast cancer risk later in life."  

"For one additional serving of French fries per week during their preschool years, women had a 27% increased risk of breast cancer when they were adults."