Attention, women! This one's for you…
A new study conducted by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health has found that if you ate lots of high-fibre foods - especially fruits and vegetables - during adolescence and young adulthood, you have a significantly lower chance of getting breast cancer compared to those who didn't eat much fibre when they were young.
The lead author of the study, Maryam Farvid, reported: “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.”
“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,” Farvid added. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating new study that was published in the journal Pediatrics early this year…
Harvard researchers find a link between fibre intake in your younger years and breast cancer risk
For the study, the researchers looked at a group of 90,534 women. These participants had participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II, a long-running investigation of the factors that affect women’s health.
In 1991, women between 27 and 44 years old at the time completed questionnaires about the foods they consumed. Every four years after that, they filled out the same questionnaire. In 1998, they also completed questionnaires about their diets while they were in high school.
The team of Harvard researchers looked at each woman’s fibre intake while adjusting for factors like family history of breast cancer
, menstruation history, body mass index, weight change over time, alcohol use, race and other dietary factors.
What they found was that women who ate more dietary fibre during early adulthood were 12% to 19% less likely to get breast cancer
. What’s more, high fibre intake during adolescence was linked to a 16% lower risk of overall breast cancer
and 24% lower risk of breast cancer before menopause.
What’s more, researchers found that the greatest benefit came from fruit and vegetable fibre
The researchers also found that for each additional 10 g of fibre – for example, a half-cup each of cooked cauliflower or squash and kidney beans or one apple and two slices of whole wheat bread – that the women in the study ate daily during early adulthood, their breast cancer risk dropped by 13%.
Researchers said that the biggest benefit came from fibre found in fruits and vegetables, suggesting that these fibre-rich foods may lessen breast cancer risk by helping to reduce oestrogen levels in the blood, which are associated with the development of breast cancer.
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Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study, said, “From many other studies we know that breast tissue is particularly influenced by carcinogens and anti-carcinogens 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.”
PS: Wondering how you can up your fibre intake? Check out these
four tasty high-fibre snack ideas!