High fat diet may increase a woman's risk of breast cancer later in life
A high fat diet was linked to harmful metabolic changes and abnormal breast cell growth in miceThe fatty acid that was found to cause the metabolic changes is present in hydrogenated fats, widely used in the manufacture of biscuits and cakes
10:48 GMT, 18 September 2012
Eating a poor diet early in life may increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, research suggests.
A US study of young mice showed that a diet linked to obesity and harmful metabolic changes stimulated early breast growth. It also led to abnormal tissues in the breast that may produce breast cancer.
Lead researcher Dr Russ Hovey, from the University of California at Davis, said: ‘The findings of this study are particularly important when we superimpose them on data showing that girls are experiencing breast development at earlier ages, coincident with a growing epidemic of childhood obesity.’
Breast beware: The hydrogenated fats that contain the fatty acid that causes harmful metabolic changes is present in cakes, biscuits and processed fast food
The scientists fed newly weaned mice a diet containing a fatty acid called 10,12 CLA which can trigger metabolic syndrome, a condition linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The fatty acid is present in hydrogenated fats, widely used in the manufacture of biscuits, cakes and processed foods.
Giving female mice the 10,12 CLA stimulated growth of their mammary ducts. This was despite the young animals lacking the hormone oestrogen, believed to be vital to female reproductive development.
In some animals, the altered diet also resulted in the kind of abnormal cell growth that can lead to breast cancer.
The cancer link could be due to excess levels of insulin, the scientists believe.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they pointed out that postmenopausal women with raised insulin levels had an increased risk of breast cancer.
Risk factors: In addition to family history, smoking and age, this study suggests that a poor diet, high in hydrogenated fats may increase a woman's likelihood of developing breast cancer
They concluded: ‘Our findings highlight a striking link between diet, metabolic dysregulation, and.., MG (mammary gland) growth that is independent of oestrogenic stimulation.
'These results lend support to increasing evidence suggesting a relationship between breast cancer risk and early life events that clearly include dietary components and their effects on aspects of metabolic dysregulation.’
Breast cancer is currently one of the most prevelant forms of cancer in the UK, making up 16 per cent of all cancer cases, with 48,417 women and 371 men diagnosed in 2009.
Often an aggressive cancer, in 2010 there were 11,633 deaths from breast cancer in the UK.
However overall patient outlooks are improving due to increasingly early detection and advances in treatments. In 2005-2009, 85 per cent of women in England survived their breast cancer for five years or more.
It is important to respond to invitations from your doctor for screening and to have any lumps or changes in your breasts investigated as soon as possible.