Teen diet linked to increased risk of breast cancer

Eating unhealthy fats during teen years could lead to more dense breast tissue and increased risk of cancer.

A new report just released is saying teens that eat a diet high in saturated fats or low amounts of mono-and polyunsaturated fats have a tendency to have more dense breast tissue after 15 years, according to a report on usnews.com.

Earlier studies have shown a link between dense tissue and an increased risk of the development of breast cancer.  Although the study did not prove dietary fats caused cancer, the research shows different types of fats in the diet may play some part in the development of breast tissue, and it is particularly important during the formative teen years, according to the researchers.

Senior author Joanne Dorgan, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said the research team only found a “modest difference in breast density,” but the discovery was important because of the risk factor involved.

For the study, the research team reviewed the information collected by the Dietary Intervention Study in Children, a clinical trial that started in 1988, and was sponsored by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.  Over 600 participants were enrolled in the program, of which 300 were girls, aged between eight and ten.

Multiple reports of dietary information were collected over the years, and 177 of the participants received MRI scans to measure the breast tissue density when they were aged 25 to 29.

Those scans revealed the participants in the study who consumed higher amounts of unhealthy fats and lower amounts of healthy fats were linked to a risk of more dense breast tissue.  These women were found to have an average breast density of 21.5 percent, while those who ate the lower levels of saturated fat had an average of 16.4 percent.

The findings noted a similar difference with the women who ate the lowest levels of healthy fats when compared to those eating the highest levels.

“It is not known whether breast density measured at 25 to 29 will persist into the 40s and 50s, when the risk of breast cancer begins to increase,” said Dr. Laura Kruper, co-director of the breast cancer program at the City of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, California, who reviewed the study’s findings.

She added if the associations were found to  be true, “it would potentially have implications regarding dietary recommendations for adolescents.”  But, she continues, more research is needed to confirm the findings.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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