Cancer Causes & Control

, 20:1715 | Cite as

Marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in adipose tissue and breast cancer risk: a case–cohort study from Denmark

  • Petra M. Witt
  • Jeppe H. Christensen
  • Erik B. Schmidt
  • Claus Dethlefsen
  • Anne Tjønneland
  • Kim Overvad
  • Marianne Ewertz
Original paper



The aim of this study was to investigate the association between the content of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in adipose tissue, a biomarker for the long-term intake of seafood, and the subsequent development of breast cancer (BC).


We designed a case–cohort study based on a cohort of healthy Danish women, who in the 1990s donated adipose tissue biopsies to a biobank in order to investigate the role of diet for the development of cancer and chronic disease. During follow-up, incident cases of BC were identified through national registries, and the content of n-3 PUFA in adipose tissue was compared between cases and the cohort sample.


During follow-up, 463 new cases of BC were identified. After adjusting for potential confounders, no significant association between the content of marine n-3 PUFA and BC was found. When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile, the hazard ratio (HR) was 0.96 (95% CI 0.64–1.43) for total marine n-3 PUFA, 0.84 (95% CI 0.58–1.23) for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and 1.08 (95% CI 0.73–1.58) for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).


This study does not indicate any association between the content of total or individual marine n-3 PUFA in adipose tissue and development of BC.


Breast neoplasms n-3 Fatty acids Biomarker Case–cohort study 



This study was supported by grants from The Danish Cancer Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra M. Witt
    • 1
  • Jeppe H. Christensen
    • 2
  • Erik B. Schmidt
    • 3
  • Claus Dethlefsen
    • 3
  • Anne Tjønneland
    • 4
  • Kim Overvad
    • 5
  • Marianne Ewertz
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Oncology, Aalborg HospitalAarhus University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Nephrology, Center for Cardiovascular Research, Aalborg HospitalAarhus University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Cardiology, Center for Cardiovascular Research, Aalborg HospitalAarhus University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  4. 4.Danish Cancer Society, Institute of Cancer EpidemiologyCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Center for Cardiovascular Research, Aalborg HospitalAarhus University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  6. 6.Department of OncologyOdense University HospitalOdenseDenmark
  7. 7.Institute of Clinical ResearchUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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