Mediterranean diet and breast density in the Minnesota breast cancer family study

Marilyn Tseng, Thomas A. Sellers, Robert A. Vierkant, Lawrence H. Kushi, Celine M. Vachon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mediterranean populations' lower breast cancer incidence has been attributed to a traditional Mediterranean diet, but few studies have quantified Mediterranean dietary pattern intake in relation to breast cancer. We examined the association of a Mediterranean diet scale (MDS) with mammographic breast density as a surrogate marker for breast cancer risk. Participants completed a dietary questionnaire and provided screening mammograms for breast density assessment using a computer-assisted method. Among 1,286 women, MDS was not clearly associated with percent density in multivariate linear regression analyses. Because of previous work suggesting dietary effects limited to smokers, we conducted stratified analyses and found MDS and percent density to be significantly, inversely associated among current smokers (β = -1.68, P = 0.002) but not among nonsmokers (β = -0.08, P = 0.72; P for interaction = 0.008). Our results confirm a previous suggestion that selected dietary patterns may be protective primarily in the presence of procarcinogenic compounds such as those found in tobacco smoke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-709
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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