Dietary fat in breast cancer survival

Nour Makarem, Urmila Chandran, Elisa V. Bandera, Niyati Parekh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laboratory evidence suggests a plausible role for dietary fat in breast cancer pathophysiology. We conducted a systematic literature review to assess the epidemiological evidence on the impact of total dietary fat and fat subtypes, measured pre- and/or postcancer diagnosis, in relation to breast cancer-specific and all-cause mortality among breast cancer survivors. Studies were included if they were in English, had a sample size ≥200, and presented the hazard ratio/rate ratio for recurrence, disease-specific mortality, or all-cause mortality (n = 18). Although the results are mixed, most studies suggested that higher saturated fat intake prediagnosis was associated with increased risk of breast cancer-specific and all-cause mortality. Postdiagnostic trans fat intake was associated with a 45% and 78% increased risk of all-cause mortality. Higher monounsaturated fat intake before and after diagnosis was generally associated with increased risk of all-cause and breast cancer-specific mortality, albeit the majority of the studies were statistically nonsignificant. Two studies evaluating omega-3 fat intake suggested an inverse association with all-cause mortality. Although there were too few studies on fat subtypes to draw definitive conclusions, high consumption of saturated fat may exert a detrimental effect on breast cancer-specific and all-cause mortality, whereas omega-3 fat may be beneficial. The inconsistent and limited evidence warrants research to assess the impact of consumption of fat subtypes on breast cancer recurrence and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-348
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Nutrition
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer recurrence
  • Cancer survival
  • Dietary fat
  • Fat subtypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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