Consuming saturated fats during adolescence may increase risk of developing breast cancer during adulthood, said researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Fat intake has been linked to breast density. Detailed results from the study were published Thursday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Healthier unsaturated fats can be found in nuts, avocados, olives and vegetable oils.  By contrast, meat, cheese, and dairy desserts contain saturated fats. The latter should only provide 5 percent of daily calories, said the American Heart Association.

The study has proven a link between saturated fats and the increased risk for breast cancer
Previous studies have demonstrated that breast density has a considerable impact in the development of breast cancer. Image Credit: Daily Entertain

Breast density shows the “proportion of glandular and stromal tissue to fatty tissue”, said researchers in a press release published Wednesday.

Researchers have analyzed long-term consequences of fat consumption during adolescence, on the breast composition of young adult women. Seungyoun Jung, postdoctoral researcher and lead study author, said that this is the first study of its kind.

Avoiding saturated fats during adolescence may be an early strategy to prevent chronic disease during adulthood

A theory proposes that risk of breast cancer grows as breast density increases. Women with higher rates of breast density can present up to four times more risks to develop breast cancer, than women with less density, said a 2006 meta-analysis quoted by researchers of the study.

Results from the study demonstrate that dieting patterns followed by teenagers should be studied, said Dr. Jung, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Paying attention to certain kinds of fat, may be an early strategy to prevent disease.

“Appropriate dietary modifications during adolescence may potentially contribute to lowering breast density and possibly breast cancer risk as well as preventing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” said Dr. jung in a press release.

Study details and other theories

Study’s senior author Joanne F. Dorgan, PhD, MPH explained that breast tissue may be sensitive to factors that interfere during adolescence. When girls are between 10 and 19 years old, their breasts are are continuously developing and changing, said Dorgan.

“The effect of dietary fat intake on the breasts, therefore, might be greater at younger vs. older ages, possibly explaining the lack of association between fat intake and breast cancer risk in previous studies of adult women,” added Dorgan, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The team analyzed data from 177 mostly-Caucasian women, taken from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). They followed 8-year-old girls during their adolescence. Researchers noted that more research is needed, in order to confirm new findings of the study.

The American Heart Association recommends that people should avoid saturated fats, to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and lipids. Diets should include fish, nuts, and beans or legumes instead of red meats and fatty dairy products.

How big is the impact of breast cancer in the United States?

The fight against breast cancer across the United States has undertake many studies an foundations dedicated to treat the disease and find a successful way to prevent it. Image Credit: Huffington Post
The fight against breast cancer across the United States has undertake many studies an foundations dedicated to treat the disease and find a successful way to prevent it. Image Credit: Huffington Post

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women besides skin cancer, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 246,660 new cases of the disease would be diagnosed in the country just in 2016.

On average, about 12 percent of women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. The disease would cause for 40,505 deaths in the country, during this year, said the Breast Cancer Organization.

Lowering consumption of dietary fat may reduce death rates among women with breast cancer

Patients of early-stage breast cancer who decrease fat consumption in the long-term may have minor risks of dying from the disease, according to data from the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS). Results were published by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Results mentioned only include women with hormone-unrelated breast cancer. A theory proposes that “lifestyle intervention” is helpful when it is constant during a long time. Reducing saturated fat intake may lead to weight loss, which is tied to an increase of survival rates.

People should avoid saturated fats, but healthy fats are essential for a healthy life

Worldwide populations should increase intake of healthy fats. “It could save up to a million people,” said the American Heart Association in January. Researchers said that policymakers are too much focused on reducing consumption of saturated fats.

“We found there would be a much bigger impact on heart disease deaths if the priority was to increase the consumption of polyunsaturated fats as a replacement for saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as to reduce trans fats,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H.

To compare different fat intake levels from people around the world, researchers collected data from diet and food patterns of 186 countries. Heart disease may be increased due to elevated consumptions of saturated fats.

By contrast, not consuming enough healthy fats, Omega 6 and 3, can also cause heart disease. The latter is the main cause of death in the U.S. Every year, more than 610,000 people die from heart-related problems, said the CDC.

Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine (Press Release)