Fat, Fiber, and Breast Cancer Risk (Long-Term Diet Changes)


In the current issue of Cancer, the study looks at a link between diet and breast cancer risk. Researchers have long suspected a link, but other factors involved in breast cancer’s origins have complicated the picture.


The proposed theory is that prolonged exposure to increased estrogen andprogesterone levels in the body increases breast cancer risk, says researcher Peter H. Gann, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.


And a healthy low-fat, high-fiber diet has long been suspected of lowering these hormone levels.


Chipping Away at Estrogen


In this newest study, a pattern of small changes in estrogen levels emerges — changes due to diet — which could chip away at estrogen levels over time, reports Gann.


The findings are an important addition to the puzzle of breast cancer risk, Michele R. Forman, PhD, a National Cancer Institute researcher, writes in an accompanying editorial.


In the study, 213 women — all between 20 and 40 years old — were asked to eat either a high-fiber, low-fat diet, or their usual diet. The women also tested their own urine at assigned times every month to provide researchers a measure of estrogen and progesterone hormones circulating in the bloodstream.


One year later: estrogen levels were very similar between the two groups, reports Gann. When the women’s age and body mass index (an indicator of body fat) were factored in, Gann saw only small differences in daily estrogen levels between the two groups.


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