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Diets High in Starchy Foods Linked to Higher Risk of Breast, Ovarian Cancer

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A study found that women who eat diets that contain a lot of meat had a lower risk of breast cancer. The study also found that women who ate lots of fiber, fruits, and vegetables had a lower risk of ovarian cancer, but this type of diet didn't affect their breast cancer risk. Women who ate many starchy foods (pasta, bread, crackers) has a higher risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

Previous research on how diet influences breast cancer risk suggests that eating lots of saturated fat and red meat, and not eating fiber, fruits and vegetables, increases risk. So this new study raises some questions.

It's hard to know why research results on diet and breast cancer risk don't always agree. Research on diet and risk can be complicated because many studies ask women to remember what they ate in the past, rather than having researchers directly observe what the women eat each day (which is difficult and time-consuming). The link between diet, weight, and risk also could influence the results. The study reviewed here focused on what the women in the study ate, but not what they weighed. It's possible that a high fat diet may not affect breast cancer risk if a woman maintains a healthy weight. But a high fat diet may increase breast cancer risk if a woman is overweight.

A report from the World Cancer Research Fund found that diet and lifestyle choices can influence breast cancer risk. The report is reliable because the conclusions are based on the findings of more than 7,000 studies from around the world. The report said maintaining a healthy weight was one of the most important things a person can do to lower cancer risk.

The report's most important recommendations for lowering breast cancer risk are worth repeating here:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a diet that's low in fat and includes lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid red and processed meats (ham, bacon, lunchmeat), simple carbohydrates, and salt.
  • If you have a baby, breastfeed for at least the first 6 months.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Do moderate exercise regularly (every day if you can).

Besides helping to lower your risk of breast and other cancers, following these recommendations will improve your overall health. There's only one of YOU and you deserve the best health and life you can have. You're worth it!

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