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No Clear Link Between Eating Fat and Risk

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A large study found no clear link between the amount of fat a woman eats and her breast cancer risk. Some earlier research found a link between a diet high in fat and breast cancer risk. This study was done in Sweden, where the amount of fat in a high-fat diet may be much lower than the amount of fat in a North American high-fat diet.

There are three types of fat in food:

  • Saturated fats (SFA), found mainly in meat and whole-milk products, are only found in foods that come from animals, not those that come from plants. Saturated fat can raise "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Monounsaturated fats (MUFA), found in many nuts and in olive oils, and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), found in seafood, fish oils, and corn oil, can lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels and raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Each type of fat can effect general health, and possibly breast health, in different ways.

This study looked closely at breast cancer risk in women older than 50 and found that women who ate a lot of unsaturated fats (MUFA and PUFA) earlier in life had a reduced risk of breast cancer later in life.

Even though the link between eating fat and breast cancer risk isn't completely clear, maintaining a healthy lifestyle CAN reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and can improve survival and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in women who've been diagnosed. A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and includes lots of fruits and vegetables
  • regular, moderate exercise
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • limiting alcohol
  • no smoking

Visit the breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section for more information on all that you can do to keep your risk of breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence as low as it can possibly be.

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