High Fiber Diet May Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer

First Posted: Feb 01, 2016 11:13 PM EST

New findings published in the journal Pediatrics show that high levels of dietary fiber could help lower the risk of breast cancer.

Researchers at Harvard University note that while most Americans don't get their recommended amount of fiber, women should keep close attention to how much they're consuming. 

During this recent study, researchers analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study II that looked at information from 1991 on almost 100,000 premenopausal women between the ages of 27 and 44. Then, researchers asked them follow-up questionnaires to be completed by over 40,000 of the women in 1998 regarding their diets in high school.

"From many other studies we know that breast tissue is particularly influenced by carcinogens and anticarcinogens during childhood and adolescence," said Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University, in a news release. "We now have evidence that what we feed our children during this period of life is also an important factor in future cancer risk."

Researchers documented almost 3,000 cases of invasive breast cancer duing a 20-year follow-up from the initial questionnaire in 1991. A little over 1,000 cases of breast cancer were discovered during the follow-up with over 40,000 women .

Overall, findings showed that breast cancer risk declined by about 13 percent for each additional 10 grams of fiber eaten daily in early adulthood, researchers say. Furthermore, the findings showed that breast cancer risk was between 12 and 19 percent lower among women who ate more fiber during early adulthood. Better still, those who ate more fiber during adolescence saw a 16 percent overall lower risk. They also had a 24 percent lower risk of developing the disease pre-menopause. 

"Previous studies of fiber intake and breast cancer have almost all been non-significant, and none of them examined diet during adolescence or early adulthood, a period when breast cancer risk factors appear to be particularly important," said Dr. Maryam Farvid, visiting scientist at Harvard Chan School of Public Health. "This work on the role of nutrition in early life and breast cancer incidence suggests one of the very few potentially modifiable risk factors for premenopausal breast cancer."

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