Association between dietary inflammatory potential and breast cancer incidence and death: Results from the Women's Health Initiative

Fred K. Tabung, Susan E. Steck*, Angela D. Liese, Jiajia Zhang, Yunsheng Ma, Bette Caan, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Jo L. Freudenheim, Lifang Hou, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Nitin Shivappa, Mara Z. Vitolins, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Judith K. Ockene, James R. Hébert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Diet modulates inflammation and inflammatory markers have been associated with cancer outcomes. In the Women's Health Initiative, we investigated associations between a dietary inflammatory index (DII) and invasive breast cancer incidence and death.Methods:The DII was calculated from a baseline food frequency questionnaire in 122 788 postmenopausal women, enrolled from 1993 to 1998 with no prior cancer, and followed until 29 August 2014. With median follow-up of 16.02 years, there were 7495 breast cancer cases and 667 breast cancer deaths. We used Cox regression to estimate multivariable-adjusted hazards ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) by DII quintiles (Q) for incidence of overall breast cancer, breast cancer subtypes, and deaths from breast cancer. The lowest quintile (representing the most anti-inflammatory diet) was the reference.Results:The DII was not associated with incidence of overall breast cancer (HR Q5vsQ1, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.91-1.07; P trend =0.83 for overall breast cancer). In a full cohort analysis, a higher risk of death from breast cancer was associated with consumption of more pro-inflammatory diets at baseline, after controlling for multiple potential confounders (HR Q5vsQ1, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.01-1.76; P trend =0.03).Conclusions:Future studies are needed to examine the inflammatory potential of post-diagnosis diet given the suggestion from the current study that dietary inflammatory potential before diagnosis is related to breast cancer death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1277-1285
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 24 2016


  • Women's Health Initiative
  • breast cancer
  • dietary inflammatory index
  • incidence
  • mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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