Contrary to published reports, researchers from the UK believe there is an association between high dietary fat and breast cancer. It just hasn't come to light because past studies have been imprecise.
The problem is that food frequency questionnaires (FFQs), used to collect information from study patients, are "prone to measurement error," say UK researchers. And the degree of error associated with FFQs is considerably larger than previously estimated, which could account for the negative findings of...studies of diet and cancer.
The UK team looked at the relationship between breast cancer risk and fat intake using both a FFQ and the more detailed 7-day food diary in roughly 13,000 women between 1993 and 1997. By the year 2000, 168 cases of breast cancer had occurred. The team matched each case patient to four healthy control subjects.
Using the 7-day food-diary estimates, subjects with the highest intake of saturated fat had a two-fold rise in breast cancer risk compared with those with the lowest intake, they report. In contrast, no association between fat intake and breast cancer was evident based on the FFQ.
They conclude that these "preliminary findings suggest that use of the food diary can detect relations between diet and cancer risk within a relatively homogeneous population."
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