Erythrocyte fatty acids and risk of proliferative and nonproliferative fibrocystic disease in women in Shanghai, China

Jackilen Shannon, Irena B. King, Johanna W. Lampe, Li Gao Dao, Roberta M. Ray, Ming Gang Lin, Helge Stalsberg, David B. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Although benign breast changes are more common than breast cancer, little evidence regarding risk factors for benign breast conditions is available. Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids have antiinflammatory and antiproliferative actions and may be important in reducing the risk of benign conditions. There is a lack of research on the association of n-3 fatty acids with risk of benign fibrocystic breast changes. Objectives: The objectives of the study were to evaluate the role of n-3 and other fatty acids in the development of benign proliferative fibrocystic conditions (PFCs) and nonproliferative fibrocystic conditions (NPFCs) in the breast and to evaluate the progression of fibrocystic changes in breast cancer. Design: We conducted a case-control study to determine erythrocyte fatty acid concentrations in 155 women with NPFCs, 185 women with PFCs, 241 women with breast cancer (127 with nonproliferative and 114 with proliferative changes in the noncancerous extratumoral mammary epithelium), and 1030 control subjects. We estimated the relative risk of NPFCs, PFCs, and breast cancer with proliferative and nonproliferative changes in extratumoral tissue compared with the risk of these changes alone. Results: Women in the highest quartile of eicosapentaenoic acid concentrations were 67% less likely to have an NPFC alone or with breast cancer and 49% less likely to have breast cancer than were women with PFCs. c-Linolenic acid (18:3n-6) was positively associated with all fibrocystic and cancerous conditions. Palmitic: palmitoleic acid (n-7 saturation index) was inversely associated with risk in all comparisons. Conclusion: Our results support a protective effects of n-3 fatty acid intake and the n-7 saturation index against benign fibrocystic breast changes and the progression of proliferative changes to breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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