Postprint version. Published in Nutrition and Cancer, Volume 60, Issue 6, January 1, 2008, pages 703-709.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Marylin Tseng was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Mediterranean populations’ lower breast cancer incidence has been attributed to a traditional Mediterranean diet, but few studies have quantified Mediterranean dietary pattern intake in relation to breast cancer. We examined the association of a Mediterranean diet scale (MDS) with mammographic breast density as a surrogate marker for breast cancer risk. Participants completed a dietary questionnaire and provided screening mammograms for breast density assessment using a computer-assisted method. Among 1,286 women, MDS was not clearly associated with percent density in multivariate linear regression analyses. Because of previous work suggesting dietary effects limited to smokers, we conducted stratified analyses and found MDS and percent density to be significantly, inversely associated among current smokers (β = –1.68, P = 0.002) but not among nonsmokers (β = –0.08, P = 0.72; P for interaction = 0.008). Our results confirm a previous suggestion that selected dietary patterns may be protective primarily in the presence of procarcinogenic compounds such as those found in tobacco smoke.