Teen Girls’ High Fat Diet Linked to Breast Cancer
Teenage girls, who eat a diet high in saturated fats, and lower in mono-unsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, seem to have denser breast tissue which is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer later in life, according to a new study.
Recognizing different fats
Artery clogging saturated fats are typically found in animal-based food products like meat, poultry, butter, whole milk, cheese and other dairy foods. Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocadoes and nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower oils, and in fatty fish like salmon and herring. They are also found in flaxseeds.
Study finds dietary fats affect teen breast tissue
The new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention involved 177 girls ages ten to eighteen, mostly Caucasian, who were participants in The Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). Breast density was measured by MRI once the subjects reached age 25- 29 years of age. The older subjects who consumed higher amounts of saturated fats and lower amounts of the healthier fats, during their teen years, had higher breast density volumes fifteen years later, though the difference between the subjects was “modest.” Teens with the lowest saturated fat/higher healthier fats consumption had a %DBV (percent dense breast volume of 16.4% increase in density versus teens with higher consumption of saturated fat/lower consumption of healthy fats, whose %DBV was measured at 21.5%.
Denser breast associated with higher breast cancer risk
The researchers in the study caution that they don’t know yet if the “higher breast volume” will translate to a higher risk of breast cancer in these women. Higher breast density is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer based on current research. The research team plans to confirm the observational study through additional research on a larger, more racially diverse group of teens.
The link between breast density and breast cancer
When doctors measure breast density, they are looking at the proportion of glandular breast tissue to fatty tissue. As the ratio goes up, the risk of breast cancer also rises. A 2006 meta-analysis showed that women with the densest breasts had a four times greater risk of breast cancer compared to women with less dense breasts. Researchers suggest that breast tissue is susceptible to different influences during teen years when growth spurts typically occur.
Questions still not answered
The researchers suggest that whether breast density measurements at age 25 will persist into a woman’s 40s or 50s is not clear. That’s another reason for more longitudinal studies and studies that involve larger numbers of teens.
A prior study did reveal that teens who consume more fruits have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, while teens with heavy alcohol use likely upped their risk of breast cancer later-in-life.
Also consider reading: Hey America! Extra Pounds = Extra Risk!