A breakthrough study soon to be presented at NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE later this week reports that women who maintain diets with inflammatory-rich foods have a 12% greater risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who consume more anti-inflammatory diets. The investigation followed over 350,000 women who participated in the European Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study beginning in the mid-1990s.
"Most studies examining diet and breast cancer risk have focused on single nutrients or foods rather than the whole diet," said first author Carlota Castro-Espin, a predoctoral fellow at the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona. "People consume food not nutrients, thus examining overall dietary patterns, rather than single components of diets can lead to more accurate conclusions when analyzing associations with a health outcome such as breast cancer."
Participants in the EPIC study self-reported their diets in questionnaires that detailed food frequencies. The researchers were able to take this data and generate an inflammatory score for every individual based on their intake of 27 foods. Their goal was to look at the relationship of long-term, low-grade inflammation with the development of breast cancer.
So, you’re probably wondering, which foods are high-inflammatory foods? The go-to culprits of inflammation are red and processed meat, high-fat foods like butter, margarine, and frying fats, as well as foods with lots of sugar. Typically, fruits, vegetables, legumes, tea and coffee are generally considered be to anti-inflammatory.
The researchers found a greater association between the increase in breast cancer risk and pro-inflammatory diets in premenopausal women. They did not observe a variation in association by breast cancer hormone receptor subtypes.
"Our results add more evidence of the role that dietary patterns play in the prevention of breast cancer," said Castro-Espin. "With further confirmation, these findings could help inform dietary recommendations aimed at lowering cancer risk."