Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 385–393 | Cite as

Adolescent intake of animal fat and red meat in relation to premenopausal mammographic density

  • Kimberly A. BertrandEmail author
  • Rosemarie A. Burian
  • A. Heather Eliassen
  • Walter C. Willett
  • Rulla M. Tamimi


Adolescence is hypothesized to be a time period of particular susceptibility to breast cancer risk factors. Red meat and fat intake during high school was positively associated with risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). High mammographic density is a strong predictor of breast cancer risk but there is limited research on dietary factors associated with breast density. To test the hypothesis that high intake of animal fat or red meat during adolescence is associated with mammographic density, we analyzed data from premenopausal women in the NHSII. Participants recalled adolescent diet on a high school food frequency questionnaire. We assessed absolute and percent mammographic density on digitized analog film mammograms for 687 premenopausal women with no history of cancer. We used generalized linear regression to quantify associations of adolescent animal fat and red meat intake with mammographic density, adjusting for age, body mass index, and other predictors of mammographic density. Adolescent animal fat intake was significantly positively associated with premenopausal mammographic density, with a mean percent density of 39.2 % in the lowest quartile of adolescent animal fat intake versus 43.1 % in the highest quartile (p trend: 0.03). A non-significant positive association was also observed for adolescent red meat intake (p trend: 0.14). These findings suggest that higher adolescent animal fat intake is weakly associated with percent mammographic density in premenopausal women.


Adolescence Animal fat Red meat Premenopausal Mammographic density Breast cancer Epidemiology 



We thank Barbara DeSouza, Divya Prithviraj, and Ellen Hertzmark for their assistance with data collection and analysis. This work was supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Cancer Institute (UM1 CA176726, R01 CA124865, R01 CA67262, and R01 CA50385). KAB was supported by the Simeon J. Fortin Charitable Foundation Fellowship, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10549_2016_3679_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly A. Bertrand
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosemarie A. Burian
    • 2
  • A. Heather Eliassen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Walter C. Willett
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rulla M. Tamimi
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Channing Division of Network MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of NutritionHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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