A study published in The Journal of Nutrition has shown an inverse association of dietary intake of vitamin A, including carotenoids, with ER-positive breast cancer risks among premenopausal Black women.
Racial disparities in breast cancer incidence, particularly among those younger than age 45, are well documented in the United States. Although there are many contributing factors, analyses have shown inverse associations with the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women and lower vitamin A intake and status. Vitamin A, a group of fat-soluble micronutrients including retinol and carotenoids, has been shown to have anti-breast cancer properties. However, these studies were mainly conducted among White women. Therefore, investigating vitamin A intake in relation to breast cancer among women of African descent is important because they are at a higher risk than White women of ER-negative breast cancer, meaning that the cancer cells do not need estrogen to grow.
To examine the association of dietary vitamin A intake with breast cancer risks in relation to tumor ER status in a large consortium of Black women, Ting-Yuan David Cheng (University of Florida and adjunct at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center) and colleagues utilized pooled data from 3564 breast cancer cases and 11,843 controls from the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Consortium. A food frequency questionnaire was used to assess dietary intake of retinol and carotenoids.
An inverse association was observed between dietary total vitamin A equivalents and ER-positive breast cancer risk among premenopausal women. In addition, there was an inverse association with dietary β-carotene and lutein (a type of carotenoid) intake and ER-positive breast cancer risk among premenopausal women. No significant association was found between higher dietary total vitamin A equivalents and the risk of ER-negative breast cancer by menopausal status.
This is the first study to address a knowledge gap on the association of dietary vitamin A intake and breast cancer risks in US Black women. In summary, the results showed an inverse association of dietary intake of vitamin A, β-carotene, and lutein with ER-positive breast cancer risks among premenopausal Black women. These results are consistent with biological findings regarding the effects of retinoids on estrogen-related breast cancer cells. In a companion editorial, Michelle Holmes and Cheng Peng (Harvard Medical School) discuss factors that may contribute to racial disparity concerning vitamin A status and breast cancer risk among Black women.
Kevin R Bitsie, Ting-Yuan David Cheng, Susan E McCann, Gary Zirpoli, Song Yao, Elisa V Bandera, Laurence N Kolonel, Lynn Rosenberg, Andrew F Olshan, Julie R Palmer, Christine B Ambrosone, Dietary Vitamin A and Breast Cancer Risk in Black Women: The African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) Consortium, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 12, December 2021, Pages 3725–3737, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab278.
Michelle D Holmes, Cheng Peng, Vitamin A: A Potential Intervention for Breast Cancer Racial Disparities, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 12, December 2021, Pages 3602–3603, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab359.
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