In x-ray breast imaging, the anatomical noise background of the breast has a significant impact on the detection of lesions and other features of interest. This anatomical noise is typically characterized by a parameter, β, which describes a power law dependence of anatomical noise on spatial frequency (the shape of the anatomical noise power spectrum). Large values of β have been shown to reduce human detection performance, and in conventional mammography typical values of β are around 3.2. Recently, x-ray differential phase contrast (DPC) and the associated dark field imaging methods have received considerable attention as possible supplements to absorption imaging for breast cancer diagnosis. However, the impact of these additional contrast mechanisms on lesion detection is not yet well understood. In order to better understand the utility of these new methods, we measured the β indices for absorption, DPC, and dark field images in 15 cadaver breast specimens using a benchtop DPC imaging system. We found that the measured β value for absorption was consistent with the literature for mammographic acquisitions (β = 3.61±0.49), but that both DPC and dark field images had much lower values of β (β = 2.54±0.75 for DPC and β = 1.44±0.49 for dark field). In addition, visual inspection showed greatly reduced anatomical background in both DPC and dark field images. These promising results suggest that DPC and dark field imaging may help provide improved lesion detection in breast imaging, particularly for those patients with dense breasts, in whom anatomical noise is a major limiting factor in identifying malignancies.