Bad Diet in Youth May Up Early Breast Cancer Risk
A poor diet while young may do more than just make it tough to fit into a pair of jeans: New research suggests it might also raise a younger woman’s risk for breast cancer.
“A diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and red and processed meat makes it more likely that you may experience early onset breast cancer,” said study senior author Karin Michels. She is chair of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in Los Angeles.
An unhealthy diet appeared to increase that risk by more than one-third, but the findings can’t prove cause-and-effect, Michels said. “We are talking about a link or association,” she noted. The study tracked data from more than 45,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. All of the women completed food frequency questionnaires about their teen and early adult diets and were followed up for 22 years.
The researchers assigned the diets an inflammatory score, based on a method that links diet with established inflammatory markers in the blood. Eating a high-sugar, refined carbohydrate diet has been linked to higher levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, Michels explained.
The researchers can’t explain why inflammation may drive up the risk. And while the main components of the inflammatory diet were foods that aren’t surprising, the list also included lesser amounts of certain vegetables, such as celery, green pepper, mushrooms, eggplant, and fish.
The study also has limitations, the authors said, including the possibility of error in remembering a high school diet when the women were in their 30s and older; it was agreed that the mechanism for why inflammation may drive up risk is not fully understood by experts.
What advice would she offer women?;
“Same thing I would tell them before this was written. Eat a diet that is healthy — more chicken and fish than red meat, complex carbohydrates, eat a lot of vegetables, eat fruit and don’t drink sugary drinks.”