Fibre and nut consumption in teenage years beneficial for breast health

Breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer women around the world suffer from. A recent Harvard study suggests that eating plenty of fibre and nuts during the teen years may reduce the chance of developing Benign Breast Disease (BBD) in later life. Women with BBD are known to be at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

The Harvard research team that published the study found a significant 36% reduced risk of developing BBD for women who ate nuts more than twice per week during their teenage years. For women with the highest fibre consumption (median intake 28 g per day) a 25% reduced risk for developing BBD was noted compared with persons with a low intake (median intake 15 g per day).

To come to this conclusion the team analyzed the data from a large study population consisting of 29,480 US nurses. These nurses were questioned about their diet and health in 1989 and were also asked to update this information every two years, thus creating an extensive database of health information. In 1998 they also filled in a questionnaire about their dietary habits during high school. This high school dietary data on fibre and other dietary factors such as nut intake were linked to medical data on the occurrence of BBD in the group.


Importance of a healthy diet

These results underline the importance of a healthy diet in the teen years to overall health outcome in later life. In the UK 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and it accounts for 31 percent of all cancers in women in the UK


Su X., Tamimi R.M., Collins L.C., Baer H.J., Cho E., Sampson L., Willett W.C., Schnitt S.J., Connolly J.L., Rosner B.A., Colditz G.A. Intake of fiber and nuts during adolescence and incidence of proliferative benign breast disease. Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]