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January 12, 1990

The Dietary Fat—Breast Cancer Hypothesis: Is It Really Alive?

Author Affiliations

Huntsville, Ala

Huntsville, Ala

JAMA. 1990;263(2):237. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020071030

To the Editor.—  I found the proclamation by Schatzkin et al1 that "The Dietary Fat—Breast Cancer Hypothesis is Alive" amusing. This idea has been tossed about for years, but little attention has been given to the presence of residual estrogen in the fat consumed. Cattle and hog breeders give beef and pork animals on the hoof high doses of diethylstilbestrol or other potent estrogens to increase the weight gain on the feed lot and thus increase marbling of select cuts.In their paragraph discussing biologic plausibility, several alternative mechanisms are proposed. Until the beef and pork fat sources are assayed for residual quantities of potent estrogens (given by hog and cattle breeders to improve the return on their feed), I will find it hard to regard these studies seriously. Perhaps Schatzkin and colleagues can direct me to the definitive study that allows them to set aside this rather