Higher dietary fiber intake during adolescence and early adulthood may reduce the risk for developing breast cancer, a study published in the journal Pediatrics has shown.1

Because a diet high in fiber has been hypothesized to reduce breast cancer incidence by inhibiting reabsorption of estrogen, researchers sought to evaluate the effect of fiber intake in young adults on breast cancer risk using data from the Nurses’ Health Study II.

Investigators analyzed data from 90 534 premenopausal women who completed a dietary questionnaire in 1991, and during 20 years of follow-up, there were 2833 reported cases of breast cancer. Then in 1998, 44 263 of those women completed a questionnaire about their diet during high school. Of those, 1118 developed breast cancer by the end of follow-up.

Results showed that among all women, early adulthood total dietary fiber intake was associated with a significantly reduced risk for breast cancer. When looking at soluble and insoluble fiber, higher intakes of both were each associated with lower breast cancer risk. Of note, body mass index at age 18 years had no impact on the association between early adult fiber intake and breast cancer risk.

Researchers also found that higher total dietary fiber intake during adolescence was associated with lower breast cancer risk.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that higher fiber intakes reduce BC [breast cancer] risk and suggest that intake during adolescence and early adulthood may be particularly important,” the authors conclude.

These results are in agreement with American Cancer Society guidelines to consume foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are rich in fiber.

REFERENCE

1. Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, et al. Dietary fiber intake in young adults and breast cancer risk [published online ahead of print February 1, 2016]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-4531.