High-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains can help lower risks of developing breast cancer in women if consumed during adolescence.
The study was made by a group of researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and was published on January 1st in the journal “Pediatrics.”
Researchers collected and studied data on the fiber intake of more than 44,000 young women that may have a risk of breast cancer. The women answered surveys about their diet habits during high school and other lifestyle habits. Over the next 20 years, slightly more than 1,000 women developed breast cancer.
The study revealed that women who consumed high amounts of fiber, about 28 grams a day during their adolescence, had 12 to 19 percent lower risk of breast cancer before menopause compared with those who said they ate less than 15 grams a day.
Researchers also mentioned that the study suggests that fiber intake could be specially important during the teen years of a young girl.
“These new findings add to evidence that fiber may be protective for some women, and that fiber intake at a certain time in life may be important,” said Harnden, a hematology-oncology fellow at Duke University Medical Center.
She said it makes sense biologically that fiber during teen years might be beneficial since that is the time in life when body composition and breasts are developing.
Among the hight-fibre food choices, we can find: apples, pears, raspberries, prunes, peaches, artichokes, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, spinach, lentils, beans, nuts, popcorn, sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachio, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice and oatmeal.
It is important to consume such healthy high-fiber foods as it can help reduce high levels of estrogen in the blood, which is a hormone that is important for sexual and reproductive development and is associated with the development of breast cancer. A diet containing high levels of fiber may cut down on estrogen levels through changes in the gut microbiome.
The study, although it shows some of the first strong evidence that fiber intake is related to breast cancer risk, it does not prove that fiber helps prevent it.
“It’s difficult to conclude that fiber, itself, lowered women’s risk,” Harnden said. “The researchers accounted for a number of other factors – including overall diet, body weight and smoking – but it’s still hard to attribute a benefit to one component of a person’s lifestyle,” she added.
Fiber is not only beneficial for decreasing the risk of breast cancer. It also helps decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other types of cancer.
Maryam Farvid, lead researcher of the study, agreed with Harnden’s statements. “That’s in part because high-fiber foods contain many other nutrients,” she said. She says eating a wide variety of “colorful” foods is a way to stay healthy for kids and adults.