Preschool Diet Linked to Adult Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers find connection to early consumption of French fries

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Regular consumption of French fries during the preschool years has now been linked to a significantly increased risk of breast cancer.

The startling findings of a study involving more than 2,000 female registered nurses were published online Wednesday in the International Journal of Cancer.

The research, by scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, did not pinpoint the French fries as the cause, but the process used in cooking them is suspect.

The researchers analyzed the data of 582 women with breast cancer and 1,569 women free of breast cancer in 1993 who were part of the Nurses' Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study II cohorts. The investigators reviewed the women's diets from when they were 3 to 5 years old, using dietary information obtained from their mothers.

After reviewing the data, the research team found that for each additional serving of French fries per week when they were preschoolers, women had a 27 percent increased risk of breast cancer later in life.

The researchers noted that the consumption of the potatoes themselves was not associated with adult breast cancer risk, but the preparation, using frying fat high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, may be relevant.

The researchers also found that daily consumption of whole milk was associated with a modest decrease in risk of breast cancer.

Lead author Karin B. Michels, a clinical epidemiologist at BWH and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, in a prepared statement said, "Researchers are finding more evidence that diet early in life could play a role in the development of diseases in women later in life. This study provides additional evidence that breast cancer may originate during the early phases of a woman's life and that eating habits during that phase may be particularly important to reduce future risk of breast cancer."

But, Michels added, "these data have to be interpreted cautiously since the observed association between consumption of French fries and breast cancer is dependent on the validity of the maternal recall of the diet."

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has much more on trans fats.

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, Aug. 17, 2005

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