Although many in vitro and animal studies have suggested a protective effect of green tea against breast cancer, findings from epidemiological studies have been inconsistent. No study has used prediagnostic biomarkers of tea polyphenols, which might play a protective role. A total of 24,226 women aged 40 to 69 years in the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study who responded to the baseline questionnaire and provided blood in 1990–1995 were followed to December 2002. During a mean 10.6 years of follow-up, 144 newly diagnosed breast cancers were identified. Two matched controls for each case were selected from the cohort. Plasma levels of (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), and (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG) were measured, and the odds ratio (OR) of breast cancer according to plasma level was estimated using a conditional logistic regression model. We found no statistically significant association between plasma tea polyphenol levels and breast cancer risk. Adjusted ORs for the highest versus lowest group were 0.90 (95% CI 0.42–1.96; P for trend = 0.98) for EGC, 0.95 (95% CI 0.43–2.08; P for trend = 0.86) for EC, 1.21 (95% CI 0.52–2.80; P for trend = 0.53) for EGCG, and 1.75 (95% CI 0.81–3.78; P for trend = 0.15) for ECG. Stratified analyses according to baseline menopausal status showed no remarkable difference between two strata. This nested case–control study found no overall association between plasma tea polyphenols and the risk of breast cancer in Japan.
Breast cancerPlasma tea polyphenol(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallateNested case–control study
Body mass index
Food frequency questionnaire
Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study