Omega-3 (n-3) and n-6 fatty acids (FA) intake could influence the occurrence of certain diseases such as breast cancer but little is known about their relation to mammographic density (MD). The purpose of this study is to examine the association of the intake of n-3 FA and n-6 FA with MD among 777 premenopausal and 783 postmenopausal women.

In this cross-sectional study, FA intake was assessed with a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire and MD was measured using a computer-assisted method. Multivariate analyses were performed by using generalized linear models to evaluate the associations of quartiles of FA intake with MD.

For increasing quartiles of total long-chain n-3 FA intake (< 0.11, 0.11-0.20, 0.21-0.32, and ≥ 0.33 g/day), adjusted mean MD was 29, 29, 27, and 25 %, respectively (P trend = 0.005). This association remained significant among postmenopausal (P trend = 0.006) but not among premenopausal (P trend = 0.21) women. No significant association was found between n-6 FA intake and MD. However, for increasing quartiles of the n-6 FA/long-chain n-3 FA ratio intake (< 31.75, 31.75-52.28, 52.29-94.28, and ≥ 94.29), adjusted mean MD was 26, 27, 29, and 29 %, respectively (P trend = 0.008).

Higher intake of long-chain n-3 FA was associated with lower MD, suggesting that increased long-chain n-3 FA intake could be a strategy for breast cancer prevention.