Monday, August 15, 2016

Sugary, High-Fat Western Diet Tied to Denser Breast Tissue

Overweight and obese women who eat a Western-style diet may develop more dense breast tissue, possibly increasing their risk for breast cancer, Spanish researchers report.

The women were about 41% more likely to have denser breast tissue than women who ate a Mediterranean-type diet.

High-fat dairy products (whole mild, high-fat cheeses and ice cream), processed meats (bacon, ham and salami) and refined grains (white bread, pasta and white rice) are prime examples associated with this increased risk. Other examples include sweets and sweetened drinks, convenience foods (pizza, French fries and chips) and sauces (mayonnaise and ketchup), said study co-author Dr. Marina Pollan. She is a cancer epidemiologist at the National Center of Epidemiology in Madrid.

Women who ate such a diet had a 46% higher risk of developing breast cancer, Pollan added, although these study findings do not prove that diet causes breast tissue to become denser.

A Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, boiled potatoes, fruits, olives and vegetable oil and a low intake of juices, she said.

For the study, Pollan and her colleagues collected data on more than 3,500 women who were part of a breast cancer screening program between October 2007 and July 2008.

The researchers collected medical information, family and personal health history and self-reported data about diet. They also rated the density of the women’s breast tissue as seen on a mammogram.

The findings were adjusted for age, weight, menopause, smoking, family history, hormone treatment and calorie and alcohol intake, the researchers said.

The report was published Aug. 8 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

My Take:
This study is early in the process for showing an association between diet and breast density. We already know that increased breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer. It also makes early detection of breast cancer much more difficult using mammography. Ultrasound is the preferred alternative to mammography in imaging dense breast tissue.

If you look at all the adjustments the researchers made for other risk factors, you begin to see how many known risk factors exist for breast cancer. Unfortunately, current medical care is all about early detection and intervention (chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation), rather than prevention. There is no money to be made in prevention.

The Bottom Line:
The western-style diet has increased risks for morbidity and virtually all the chronic health diseases we face in modern society. Changing your diet is difficult but you can begin by eliminating any aspect of the western-style diet and adopting any aspect of the Mediterranean diet (or Paleo, zone, vegetarian, etc.). Give up dairy products and eat more vegetables. Or abandon fast food meals and eat at home or bring your lunch to work. Just begin to make one healthier choice at a time.

Finally, if you have dense breast tissue consider ultrasound in lieu of mammography for your yearly breast exam. It not only is more effective, it is non-invasive. X-ray radiation is a huge risk factor for breast cancer.

Source: August 8, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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