Women who want to lower their risk of developing breast cancer should seriously consider increasing their intake of dietary fiber. A study reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who consumed the most fiber had an 11% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who ate the least.

The authors stressed that according to their findings, it appears that a high dietary fiber intake is linked to better overall health, which possibly lowers breast cancer risk, rather than just the fiber itself lowering risk.

The authors explained that previous studies had suggested a link between reduce breast cancer risk and fiber intake, however their results were inconclusive.

Jia-Yi Dong, from the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Radiation Medicine and Public Health, Soochow University, Suzhou, China, and team gathered data from a PubMed database on published studies through January 2011. They looked at 10 prior studies which focused on women’s diets and cancer risk over a period of from 7 to 18 years.

Of 712,195 women, 2.4% (16,848) developed breast cancer. They found that the women who ate the most fiber (top fifth) were 11% less likely to have breast cancer compared with the bottom fifth. They had already factored in for variables which could affect the results, such as alcohol consumption, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), family history of breast cancer, and body weight.

Jia-Yi Dong wrote that it is possible that higher fiber eaters have generally healthier habits and lifestyles, and that various factors protected them from breast cancer.

Approximately 1 in every 8 women in the USA develops breast cancer, and between 20% and 25% of them die from the disease.

The researchers concluded:

“This meta-analysis provides evidence of a significant inverse dose-response association between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk.”

Written by Christian Nordqvist