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There has been a hypothesis that a diet high in fiber can reduce future risk of breast cancer by inhibiting estrogen reabsorption. One meta-analysis has shown a weak effect that eating fiber reduces breast cancer risk [1]. However, other studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study, did not show this association [2]. It is also known that factors in childhood and early adult life can affect future breast cancer risk. A recently published study has analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health II Study which allowed analysis of fiber intake during adolescence or early adulthood (which is a younger age range than other studies) for a longer follow-up time than other studies [3].

This study analyzed questionnaires from over 44,000 women which documented information about their diet and alcohol intake during high school. There was also an evaluation of the influence of adjustment for alternate healthy-eating index score as well as red meat, animal fat, or β-carotene, as these can also affect future breast cancer risk. Their results demonstrated that, among all women, total fiber intake in early adulthood was associated with significantly lower breast cancer risk. Each 10 g/day increase in total fiber intake during early adulthood was associated with a 13% decrease in breast cancer risk among all women (relative risk 0.87; 95% confidence interval 0.80–0.95). There was a stronger association for premenopausal breast cancer than for postmenopausal breast cancer, although this was not significant.


  • Louise R. Newson
    Solihull, West Midlands, UK


  1. Aune D, Chan DS, Greenwood DC, et al. Dietary fiber and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Ann Oncol 2012;23:1394-402
  2. Holmes MD, Liu S, Hankinson SE, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Willett WC. Dietary carbohydrates, fiber, and breast cancer risk. Am J Epidemiol 2004;159:732-9
  3. Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, Liao X, Chen WY, Willett WC. Dietary fiber intake in young adults and breast cancer risk. Pediatrics 2016;137:e20151226
  4. Farvid MS, Cho E, Chen WY, Eliassen AH, Willett WC. Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study. BMJ 201410;348:g3437
  5. Boeke CE, Tamimi RM, Berkey CS, et al. Adolescent carotenoid intake and benign breast disease. Pediatrics 2014;133:e1292-8
  6. Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, Chen WY, Willett WC. Adolescent and early adulthood dietary carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to breast cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2015 24:1111-20
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