The Link Between Dietary Fat and Breast Cancer

Posted by Dave Tomar on July 14, 2014

The Link Between Dietary Fat and Breast Cancer

Your genetics can play a big part in your health over the course of a lifetime. Some of us our born with inherited health risks and it is up to us to manage these risks. You may not be able to control your DNA but you can control your lifestyle and the choices you make. This may be the most important takeaway from a recent study that links higher fat consumption with a greater risk of developing breast cancer.

Though breast cancer is frequently linked to family history and genetic predisposition, recent findings hint at the possible relationship between dietary decisions and susceptibility.  In a study of more than 337,000 woman across ten European countries, intake of saturated fats proved a factor among the roughly 10,000 that developed breast cancer.

Making the Connection

The study determined that specific types of breast cancer were more likely than others to be connected to fat intake. Accordingly, the study indicates that women with diets high in saturated fats from meat or animal protein were 28% more likely to develop tumors with receptors for estrogen and progesterone. No such link was found between fat intake and the development of tumors without these receptors. 

Because the findings do not apply to all forms of breast cancer across the boards, many in the scientific and medical communities have responded to the new data with caution. According to an article by Fox News, some see the implications of the connection as ‘relatively modest.’ 

However, the study’s authors characterize the findings as compelling primarily for what they may reveal about the connection between breast cancer risk and diet. One possible explanation for the findings, they say, is that meat intake may have a direct impact on the production of sexual hormones, leading to the differentiated risk among women included in the study. 

Worth a Shot

Though researchers pulled up well-short of identifying high fat intake as a cause for breast cancer, the findings were still significant enough to justify some positive lifestyle recommendations. Indeed, even those in the medical community who were underwhelmed by the study’s findings agreed that there was no reason women shouldn’t cut back on their intake of saturated fats.

Particularly for those women who do have a higher genetic chance of developing breast cancer, any steps that can be taken to reduce that risk are worth a shot. Add to this the fact that reduced fat intake will ultimately reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke and the study provides ample reason to make dietary improvements. 

There is a lot about your health that you can’t control.  But your diet is completely up to you.  As Breast Cancer.org reiterates, results for most studies on this subject have been mixed. But ultimately, all scientists and healthcare professionals conclude the same thing:  A better diet means better health. 

Regardless of how statistically significant the link is between fat intake and breast cancer, you have nothing lose by improving your diet… except maybe a few extra pounds!


TAGS: fat and breast cancer