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High-fibre diet helps breast cancer

16th December 2008

Women who do not experience hot flashes as early symptoms of breast cancer tend to have higher levels of oestrogen and lower survival rates than women who do suffer hot flushes.

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This is because high levels of oestrogen can fuel the growth of breast cancer.

Such women would benefit from eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, fibre, and little fat.

This diet cancels out the effect of raised hormone levels, lowering the chance that cancer will return.

The researchers said that the diet may help women who do not respond to hormone treatments such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.

The diet reduced the chance of recurrent breast cancer by 31% in the group studied over a five-year span by researchers at the University of California in San Diego.

The research involved 3,000 women, assigned at random to either the high fruit and fibre diet, or to a control diet including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Around 30% of the women studied experienced hot flashes at the beginning of the study.

Around 15% of those women were assigned to each diet, in order to study the interplay between hormones and diet.

The team found that those on the fibre-rich diet had a significantly lower rate of a second breast cancer event.

The percentages were 16.1%, where 23.6% of the women eating the normal diet provided by the study had a recurrent cancer.

John Pierce of the University of California at San Diego said that reducing the effect of oestrogen is a major treatment strategy in breast cancer.

The researchers' interest in looking at this subgroup came because hot flashes are associated with lower circulating oestrogen levels, and the absence of hot flashes is associated with higher oestrogen levels.

He said that it appears that a dietary pattern high in fruits, vegetables and fibre, which has been shown to reduce circulating oestrogen levels, may only be important among women with circulating oestrogen levels above a certain threshold.

 

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