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Dietary fiber cuts breast cancer risk

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By David Liu, PHD

Friday Aug 3, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Eating lots of dietary fiber which means eating lots of fiber-rich fruit, vegetables and cereal may help reduce risk of breast cancer drastically, according to a new study in European Journal of Nutrition.

The study led by Li Qian of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China and colleagues showed that among pre-menopausal women, those whose intake of dietary fiber was in the highest quartile were 62 percent less likely to acquire breast cancer, compared to those whose intake was in the lowest quartile.

The study also found that among premenopausal women, those who had highest intake of soluble fiber were 85 percent less likely to develop ER negative tumors, compared to those who had lowest quartile.  That is a huge risk reduction.

Researchers compared data on medical records and dietary habits from 557 cases of breast cancer and 536 age-matched controls who did not have the disease to determine whether fiber intake is associated with risk of developing breast cancer.

The study further found that "among post-menopausal women, no reduced risk of breast cancer was observed for either soluble or insoluble fiber intakes or among ER+ or ER− tumor groups."

The researchers concluded that eating dietary fiber may help prevent ER- breast cancer in premenopausal women.

D. Aune of School of Public Health, Imperial College, London and colleagues reviewed previous studies and found dietary fiber intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer. This means the more you eat, the less possible for you to develop breast cancer.

The review of 16 prospective studies published in Annals of Oncology showed that eating highest amounts of dietary fiber was associated with 7 percent reduced risk for breast cancer, compared to eating lowest amounts.

Eating highest amounts of fruit fiber, vegetable fiber, cereal fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber was associated with 5%, 1%, 4%, 9% and 5% reduction in the risk of breast cancer, respectively.  These numbers look small, but they are all statistically significant.

Significant risk reduction was found among those who ate greater than 13 grams per day. In some studies,  more than 25 grams of fiber per day was needed to have a protective effect against breast cancer.

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