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Eating more fibre may reduce breast cancer risk

Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Can eating more fibre help reduce a womans risk of developing breast cancer? Image: Thinkstock
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Women who eat more fibre during their childhood and adolescent years may be less likely to develop breast cancer in later life, according to a new study.

Written by researchers at Harvard's T H Chan School of Public Health, the paper has led to the discovery that females who consume greater amounts of fibre-rich foods - such as fruits, vegetables and cereals - dramatically reduce their risk of developing the potentially life-threatening disease.

Scientists analysed data relating to the diets of more than 90,000 women aged between 27 and 44, who were required to submit information on their food intake every four years from 1991, with one of the surveys asking for details on their childhood diets. Participants were also questioned about their background, family health history and other lifestyle habits, with all of these taken into account when the results were drawn up.

It was found that women who consumed more fibre during their early adulthood years reduced their risk of developing breast cancer by between 12 and 19 per cent.

What's more, participants that had eaten a diet high in fibre as teenagers were 16 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with the disease altogether, while their risk of developing the illness before the menopause decreased by 24 per cent.

The doctors believe that these results are due to high levels of fibre reducing oestrogen in the blood, in turn lowering a woman's risk of breast cancer.

With this in mind, they recommend that upping fibre intake by ten grams per day - the equivalent of half a cup of cooked cauliflower, or an apple and two slices of wholemeal bread - could see a woman's chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer decline by 13 per cent.

Lead author of the study Walter Willett commented: "From many other studies, we know that breast tissue is particularly influenced by carcinogens and anticarcinogens during childhood and adolescence.

"We now have evidence that what we feed our children during this period of life is also an important factor in future cancer risk."

Written by Martin Lambert

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