The evidence regarding fatty acids and breast cancer risk is inconclusive. Adipose tissue fatty acids can be used as biomarkers of fatty acid intake and of endogenous fatty acid exposure. Fatty acids in adipose tissue are correlated owing to common dietary sources and shared metabolic pathways, which group fatty acids into naturally occurring patterns. We aimed to prospectively investigate associations between adipose tissue fatty acid patterns and long-term risk of total breast cancer and breast cancer subtypes characterised by oestrogen and progesterone receptor status (ER and PR).
This case-cohort study was based on data from the Danish cohort Diet, Cancer and Health. At baseline, a fat biopsy and information on lifestyle and reproductive factors were collected. From the 31 original fatty acids measured, patterns of fatty acids were identified using the treelet transform. During a median follow-up of 5.3 years, 474 breast cancer cases were identified. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals of risk of total breast cancer and of subtypes according to quintiles of factor score were determined by weighted Cox proportional hazards regression.
After adjustment for potential confounders, factor scores for the seven patterns identified by the treelet transform were not associated with risk of total breast cancer, nor with risk of ER+, ER-, PR+ or PR- tumours.
No clear associations between the patterns of fatty acids at baseline and long-term risk of total breast cancer or ER+, ER-, PR+ or PR- tumours were observed.