Fighting Breast Cancer with Fiber


Previously we talked about nutrition and breast cancer. Today we will focus specifically on the role of dietary fiber on cancer.

Numerous studies have now reported an association between dietary fiber intake and the risk of breast cancer:
  • A 2016 major prospective study reported that eating fiber-rich foods during adolescence was associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in adulthood.
  • A new study just out of Loma Linda University funded by the National Cancer Institute reported that vegans have lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Vegan women, for example, had 34 percent lower rates of female-specific cancers such as breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer. And this was compared to a group of healthy omnivores who ate substantially less meat than the general population (two servings a week or more), as well as after controlling for non-dietary factors such as smoking, alcohol, and a family history of cancer.
  • A Chinese study reported that high fruit and vegetable fiber consumption was associated with approximately half the risk of breast cancer as low intake. The results for soy fiber were not significant and no association was found for cereal fiber intake.
  • A major U.S. prospective population study that included 185,598 postmenopausal women found that overall consumption of dietary fiber was inversely associated with the risk of breast cancer, with a 13% lower risk of breast cancer for the highest compared to the lowest quintiles (fifths) of intake.
  • A Swedish study reported risk reductions among ever-users of hormone replacement therapy, total fiber intake and especially cereal fiber were found to be associated with a 50% reduction in risk for breast cancer.
While fiber rich foods contain a variety of compounds that can influence the development and growth of breast cancer, the fiber itself also plays an important role. Some of those influences include:
  • Fiber increases frequency of bowel movements, which in turn reduces breast cancer risk by increasing estrogen excretion. Circulating estrogen levels are an established risk factor for breast cancer. (Especially if estrogens are being metabolized into toxic metabolites and reabsorbed back into the bloodstream).
  • High fiber intake reduces serum cholesterol levels. There is some evidence that high cholesterol promotes breast cancer.
  • Diets high in fiber reduce circulating C-reactive protein, a marker of i
  • nflammation which is thought to increase breast cancer risk and worsen its subsequent prognosis.
  • Fiber intake reduces weight gain for similar levels of calorie intake. Overweight postmenopausal women are at increased risk of breast cancer and recurrence compared to normal weight women.
  • A high intake of dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, improves blood sugar control and reduces excess circulating insulin (hyperinsulinemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Hyperinsulinemia is associated with increased risk of breast cancer and recurrence.


Recommendations:

  • First and most importantly, focus on a diet that is primarily plant based. The diet should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. Meat and dairy products should be avoided or significantly limited.
  • You can also supplement with Whole Fiber Fusion to increase your fiber consumption.
  • I also recommend that all women have a simple urine test to measure estrogen metabolites if this has never been done. Several factors can cause estrogens to be converted to metabolites that increase the risk of breast cancer. Once identified interventions can be done to shift the conversion to less toxic and even protective metabolic pathways.

Make sure to check out our in-depth articles on preventing and healing chronic diseases utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.

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Wishing you good health!
Mike Woodley, R.Ph, FAARM, FMNM

References:
Pediatrics
February 2016
Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk
Maryam S. Farvid, A. Heather Eliassen, Eunyoung Cho, Xiaomei Liao, Wendy Y. Chen, Walter C. Willett

SRN Oncology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 693920, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/693920
Review Article
Evolving Concepts: How Diet and the Intestinal Microbiome Act as Modulators of Breast Malignancy
Iuliana Shapira,1 Keith Sultan,2 Annette Lee,3 and Emanuela Taioli4

European Journal of Nutrition
February 2013, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 217–223
Dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer by menopausal and estrogen receptor status

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Feb;22(2):286-94. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1060. Epub 2012 Nov 20.
Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population.
Tantamango-Bartley Y1, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Fan J, Fraser G.

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