Fiber Can Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Learn More About This Topic: Chat with Us | Email Us
Women with high fiber intake may reduce their risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at 10 studies involving dietary fiber intake and the risk of breast cancer, with more than 710,000 participants. Of the women studied, about 2.4 percent ended up with breast cancer.
People who eat high-fiber diets have lower levels of estrogen, which is a risk factor for breast tumors, the studies showed.
The researchers also discovered that the association between dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer did not significantly differ by geographic region, length of follow-up, or menopausal status of the participants.
The American Dietetic Association reports that most of people don't even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. Americans' mean fiber intake is about half that, or 14-15 grams a day.
The foods that contain the most fiber are whole grains, legumes and vegetables and fruits. But all fiber is not created equal. Some of these foods contain soluble fiber and others contain insoluble fiber. Most foods contain mixtures of both types of fiber.
Soluble fibers dissolve in water and are classified as pectins, gums and mucilages. This type of fiber is found in apples, carrots, oats, barley and legumes (lentils, beans and peas). Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and are classified as lignins, celluloses and hemicelluloses. This type of fiber is found in stringy and cruciferous vegetables, potatoes, fruits with connective tissues or seeds, wheat bran, brown rice and flax seeds.
Consuming a variety of foods, including those containing soluble and insoluble fiber, will best serve all your health needs.
“This study further supports previous reports suggesting that diets high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains may play a role in cancer prevention,” said Sharon Day, director of nutrition at Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Western Regional Medical Center.
To support the recommendation of 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, Day has the following the suggestions:
• Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables combined, daily. A salad can be any vegetable or vegetable combination that you enjoy. Add as much variety of colors that you can while maintaining a selection that you enjoy. Cooked or Raw? Go with what will set you up for the most optimal success to achieve your goal of 5-9 daily.
• Choose cereals and bread that identify the first ingredient as “whole grain.” Generally, cereal with five grams of fiber or more per serving is a good choice. Choose more whole grains and less processed grains. Try quinoa in place of white rice. Eat steel cut oats instead of cream of wheat. Whole grains may take longer to cook – I recommend making a large batch early in the week, storing it in the refrigerator, and then utilizing it through the week for meals.
• Eat one serving of beans daily. Add beans to salads or serve as a side dish with brown rice. Lentils can be added to lean ground meat which will increase fiber while acting like a meat extender. I also recommend adding beans to soups. Adding mashed beans to soup can thicken soup while adding fiber.
The study authors caution that the findings do not prove that fiber itself lowers cancer risk, however, because women who consume a lot of it might be healthier overall than those who don't.