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Lower Breast Cancer Risk with Fibre

Dietitian Juliette Kellow reports on a new study which further highlights the importance of eating a healthy, balanced, fibre-rich diet for reducing the risk of cancer.

Fill Up on Fibre – and Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Most slimmers know how important it is to eat more fibre-rich foods to help them lose weight and keep their digestive system in good working order. Now new research shows that boosting intakes of fibre also helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, followed the diets and health of more than 35,000 women in the UK for seven years.

The researchers discovered that pre-menopausal women who had the highest intakes of fibre (more than 30g a day) halved their risk of getting breast cancer compared to those who ate the least fibre (less than 20g daily). In particular, fibre from wholegrain cereals was found to offer the greatest protection, although fibre from fruit was also slightly protective. Interestingly though, there was no link between fibre and breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

It’s not clear how fibre works its magic in younger women. However, the scientists say it may affect the way the body processes and regulates oestrogen, high levels of which have been linked to breast cancer in other studies.

Fibre-rich foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer.

Referring to the findings of the study, Professor Janet Cade who led the research says, “It goes along with the general healthy eating advice to make sure that you are getting plenty of fibre in your diet through breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables.

Ed Yong, science information officer at Cancer Research UK agrees. “The study further highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet for reducing the risk of cancer,” he says.

WLR says:

This is an interesting piece of research, which suggests yet another health benefit to eating more fibre-rich foods, particularly wholegrain cereals.

Most of us fail to eat anywhere near the recommended 18g a day, which is actually considered a low intake according to this piece of research.

Results from the most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey of Adults show that men consume on average 15.2g of fibre a day, and women just 12.6g.

Here’s how to boost your intake of fibre:-

  • Swap white bread for wholemeal, granary or ‘high fibre’ white bread, rolls or pitta breads.
  • Choose high-fibre breakfast cereals such as Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, branflakes, unsweetened muesli, porridge and instant oat cereals.
  • Ditch white pasta and rice and instead opt for wholewheat pasta and brown rice.
  • Eat more beans, lentils and peas – add them to stews, soups, stir-fries, even salads.
  • Don’t peel potatoes – instead serve them with their skin such as jacket potatoes, wedges or minted new potatoes in their skins.
  • Eat five fruit and veg every day – all are a good source of fibre, especially if you eat the skins, where appropriate.
  • If you like baking, try using wholemeal flour in recipes.
  • Nibble on a few nuts and seeds – although remember they are high in calories.

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More Information

www.cancerresearch.org.uk

Cancer Research UK is the UK's leading charity dedicated to cancer research. The websites have a wealth of information about cancer.

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WLR has more articles and information on following a high fibre diet. You can increase and monitor your intake of fibre using the food diary and database tools in Weight Loss Resources. Try it free for 24 hours.

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