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.
Fatty acid (FA) signature analysis is a powerful tool to investigate foraging ecology and food web dynamics in marine ecosystems. However, use of FA signatures to qualitatively or quantitatively infer diets is potentially complicated by effects of nutritional state on lipid metabolism. Estimation of diets using the quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) model requires the use of calibration coefficients to account for predator metabolism of individual FAs. We conducted a captive feeding experiment to determine the effects of a 50% reduction in food intake on growth rate and adipose tissue FA signatures of tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata) nestlings, a species that routinely experiences food restriction during growth. FA signatures of chicks fed low- and high-calorie diets both exhibited a change in composition in response to the dietary shift with the direction of change in the composition of individual FAs matching the direction of change in the dietary FAs. Despite a growth rate in the restricted nestlings that was 38% of those in the well-fed group, rates of FA turnover were not different between high and low-calorie treatments, and turnover was close to, but not entirely complete, after 27 days on both high-calorie and restricted diets. FA signatures of tufted puffin nestlings were significantly affected by caloric restriction, but these effects were much less pronounced than those of dietary turnover, and calibration coefficients of puffins fed low and high-calorie diets were highly correlated. Our results demonstrate that changes in physiological state can affect FA metabolism, but future research is required to better understand whether the size of these effects is sufficient to substantially alter diet estimation using the QFASA model.