Vitamin D and calcium intakes from food or supplements and mammographic breast density

Sylvie Bérubé, Caroline Diorio, Benoît Mâsse, Nicole Hébert-Croteau, Celia Byrne, Gary Côté, Michael Pollak, Martin Yaffe, Jacques Brisson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Background: A better understanding of factors that affect breast density, one of the strongest breast cancer risk indicators, may provide important clues about breast cancer etiology and prevention. This study evaluates the association of vitamin D and calcium, from food and/or supplements, to breast density in premenopausal and postmenopausal women separately. Methods: A total of 777 premenopausal and 783 postmenopausal women recruited at two radiology clinics in Quebec City, Canada, in 2001 to 2002, completed a food frequency questionnaire to assess vitamin D and calcium. Breast density from screening mammograms was assessed using a computer-assisted method. Associations between vitamin D or calcium and breast density were evaluated using linear regression models. Adjusted means in breast density were assessed according to the combined daily intakes of the two nutrients using generalized linear models. Results: In premenopausal women, total intakes of vitamin D and calcium were inversely related to breast density (β = -1.4; P = 0.004 for vitamin D; β = -0.8; P = 0.0004 for calcium). In multivariate linear regression, simultaneous increments in daily total intakes of 400 IU vitamin D and 1,000 mg calcium were associated with an 8.5% (95% confidence interval, 1.8-15.1) lower mean breast density. The negative association between dietary vitamin D intake and breast density tended to be stronger at higher levels of calcium intake and vice versa. Among postmenopausal women, intakes of vitamin D and calcium were not associated with breast density. Conclusion: These findings show that higher intakes of vitamin D and calcium from food and supplements are related to lower levels of breast density among premenopausal women. They suggest that increasing intakes of vitamin D and calcium may represent a safe and inexpensive strategy for breast cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1653-1659
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


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