This Dietary Trick Cuts Girls’ Risk of Breast Cancer
The statistics are chilling: About one in eight women will get breast cancer. Clearly, those are frightening odds. But new research suggests there’s a fairly simple thing girls can do to significantly reduce the odds that they will develop breast cancer later in life: Stick to a low-fat diet during puberty.
The breasts undergo fairly rapid changes during puberty, of course, and new research suggests that the type of diet a girl eats during this crucial period can influence changes in breast tissues that will persist into young adulthood. New research on an animal model of human breast cancer development suggests that when a girl consumes a high-fat diet, changes occur in immune system cells in the breast. These changes are linked to the development, later, of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.
And here’s the really striking thing about this new finding: It wasn’t about weight gain. Subjects were fed a high-fat diet during puberty, but didn’t gain excess weight. Yet they still experienced the types of cellular changes that put them are higher risk of developing early-onset, aggressive breast cancer.
Fat in the diet appears to have switched on certain genes during breast development, and those genes increased the likelihood that tumors would develop later. Obesity is emerging as an independent risk factor for some cancers, but this suggests that even in the absence of overweight or obesity, diet can still significantly influence the risk of developing cancer.
Yong Zhao, Ying Siow Tan, Mark D Aupperlee, Ingeborg M Langohr, Erin L Kirk, Melissa A Troester, Richard C Schwartz, Sandra Z Haslam. Pubertal high fat diet: effects on mammary cancer development. Breast Cancer Research, 2013; 15 (5): R100 DOI: 10.1186/bcr3561