Polyunsaturated fatty acid interactions and breast cancer incidence: A population-based case-control study on Long Island, New York

Nikhil K. Khankari, Patrick T. Bradshaw, Susan E. Steck, Ka He, Andrew F. Olshan, Jing Shen, Jiyoung Ahn, Yu Chen, Habibul Ahsan, Mary Beth Terry, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Alfred I. Neugut, Regina M. Santella, Marilie D. Gammon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Experimental studies demonstrate that ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) inhibit inflammatory eicosanoids generated by ω-6 PUFAs. Epidemiologic studies on dietary ω-3 PUFA intake show consistent inverse associations with breast cancer incidence among Asian populations, where ω-3, relative to ω-6, intake is high. In contrast, associations are inconsistent among Western populations, where intake of ω-3, relative to ω-6, is low. We hypothesized that examining interactions between ω-3 and ω-6 would help elucidate the PUFA-breast cancer association in the United States. Methods: In a Long Island, New York, population-based study of 1463 breast cancer cases and 1500 controls, we estimated multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using unconditional logistic regression to examine interactions between ω-3 and ω-6 intake. Results: We observed a super-additive interaction (relative excess risk due to interaction = 0.41; 95% confidence interval = 0.06-0.76) between ω-3 and ω-6 intake in association with breast cancer incidence, although the CIs for the joint exposure of low ω-3/high ω-6 compared to high ω-3/low ω-6 intake were wide (odds ratio = 1.20; 95% confidence interval = 0.85-1.69). Conclusions: Breast cancer risk reduction may be possible for U.S. women with dietary consumption of higher ω-3, which has anti-inflammatory properties, in concert with lower ω-6, which induces inflammation. Replication from future U.S.-based investigations is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-935
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Seafood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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