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International Journal of Breast Cancer
Volume 2013, Article ID 808317, 26 pages
Review Article

Diet across the Lifespan and the Association with Breast Density in Adulthood

1Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 110 Chandlee Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA
2Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA
3Department of Nutritional Sciences, Center for Childhood Obesity Research, The Pennsylvania State University, 129 Noll Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA
4The Methodology Center, The Pennsylvania State University, 400 Calder Square II, State College, PA 16801, USA

Received 16 October 2012; Accepted 30 November 2012

Academic Editor: Heather E. Kleiner-Hancock

Copyright © 2013 Jessica Lindgren et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Studies have shown inconsistent results regarding the association between dietary factors across the lifespan and breast density and breast cancer in women. Breast density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer, and the mechanism through which it influences cancer risk remains unclear. Breast density has been shown to be modifiable, potentially through dietary modifications. The goal of this paper is to summarize the current studies on diet and diet-related factors across all ages, determine which dietary factors show the strongest association with breast density, the most critical age of exposure, and identify future directions. We identified 28 studies, many of which are cross-sectional, and found that the strongest associations are among vitamin D, calcium, dietary fat, and alcohol in premenopausal women. Longitudinal studies with repeated dietary measures as well as the examination of overall diet over time are needed to confirm these findings.