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Diets high in fiber linked to reduced risk of breast cancer

Healthy eating habits and early detection are powerful tools for combating the disease

Photo (c) bit245 - Getty Images
Health experts constantly stress the importance of consumers getting enough fiber in their diet, and now a recent study is lending additional weight to that advice.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently compiled data from 20 separate observational studies with the goal of seeing how fiber affected the risk of breast cancer. They found that the dietary staple lowered the chance of developing the disease by 8 percent.

The team found that soluble fibers -- which can be found in oat bran seeds, beans, lentils, and some fruits and vegetables -- lowered the overall risk of breast cancer. Higher total fiber intake (both soluble and insoluble) lowered risk in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

"Our study contributes to the evidence that lifestyle factors, such as modifiable dietary practices, may affect breast cancer risk," said Dr. Farvid. 

"Our findings provide research evidence supporting the American Cancer Society dietary guidelines, emphasizing the importance of a diet rich in fiber, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains."

Earlier detection

While optimizing your diet can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, researchers have also been hard at work trying to find ways to catch the disease at its earliest stages when it is most treatable. One research team from the National Cancer Research Institute recently announced that they were in the process of developing a blood test that could do just that. 

The researchers said that initial trials of their blood test were successful because it allowed them to differentiate between participants who had breast cancer and those who didn’t. They hope that continuing to work on the method will eventually give medical professionals another tool to fight disease.

“These results are encouraging and indicate that it’s possible to detect a signal for early breast cancer. Once we have improved the accuracy of the test, then it opens the possibility of using a simple blood test to improve early detection of the disease,” said researcher Daniyah Alfattani.

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