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D.iet & H.ealth : C.ancer Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Whole wheat may lower breast cancer risk in offspring
Nov 4, 2006, 16:46

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By Jimmy Downs

Baby girls born to mothers who eat lots of whole wheat during pregnancy may have a reduced risk of breast cancer, suggests a study published in the Nov 15, 2006 issue of International Journal of Cancer.

Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke from Georgetown University in Washington DC and colleagues conducted the study in rats and found daughters of mother rats who were fed whole wheat in pregnancy were less likely to develop breast cancer.

In the study, pregnant rats were fed diets containing 6 percent fiber from whole wheat flour, oat flour, defatted flax flour or cellulose as a control. The offspring were exposed to a chemical known to cause breast cancer.

The rats whose mothers ate the whole wheat diet were less likely to develop breast cancer, the researchers reported. In contrast, those whose mothers were given defatted flax flour were at increased cancer whereas those whose mothers were assigned oat flour faced neither increased nor decreased risk of breast cancer.

Earlier studies suggested that fiber may reduce breast cancer risk as it lowers levels of circulating estrogen, which is known to promote the development of breast cancer. But the results of studies on the effect of dietary fiber are inconsistent.

Regardless of prior theories, Hilanivi-Clarke and colleagues found that the whole wheat diet somehow affects cell growth and death, prompting them to believe that the whole wheat diet might somehow improve the DNA repairing capabilities in the animals.

Previous studies including some by Hilanivi-Clarke's team found a number of dietary factors affect the risk of developing breast cancer. It's known that daughters of mothers who used a high fat diet during pregnancy are more likely to acquire breast cancer.

"It might be beneficial to include whole wheat in the diet when one is expecting," Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke told Reuters Health. 'The model we're using should be relatively valid to make assumptions about what's going on in humans."


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