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Poor Diet Implicated in Premenopausal Breast Cancer
07 March 2017, 12:45 | Elizabeth Houston
Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2013 (the most recent year the numbers were available), 40,860 women died from breast cancer in the US and 464 men died in the U.S.
"We found a strong link between the Mediterranean Diet and reduced estrogen-receptor negative breastcancer risk among postmenopausal women, even in a non-Mediterranean population".
Results showed women with breast cancer who consumed large amounts of isoflavones had a 21 percent lower risk of dying than women who consumed small amounts. But she warned that women must be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer and contact their GP with any concerns. This condition is more fatal than other types of cancer.
It has been frequently linked to better heart health, weight management, healthier brains and living longer, although any association with the risk of cancer is less well understood.
The study, in the International Journal of Cancer, was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund.
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Overall, researchers found dietary soy intake to be safe, and noticed a correlation between high soy consumption and a decrease in the mortality risk for some breast cancer patients. However, high amounts of isoflavone did not associate with higher mortality in women who did receive hormonal therapy.
"However, other research has suggested that the estrogen-like effects of isoflavones may reduce the effectiveness of hormone therapies used to treat breast cancer". Emma Pennery, clinical director of charity Breast Cancer Care, called the study "intriguing".
Researchers examined the relationship between intake of isoflavones found in soy and death from any cause in 6,235 American and Canadian women with breast cancer over a nine-year period. However, the researchers excluded alcohol from their analysis because it is a known risk factor for breast cancer.
While the study categorized women in the highest quartile as those who consumed 1.5 milligrams or more of isoflavone per day-equivalent to a few dried soybeans-the authors caution that individuals tend to underestimate their food intake when filling out questionnaires. Referring to receptor-negative breast cancer - which makes up 20 percent of all recently diagnosed cases of cancer - she says that "whether lifestyle factors can improve survival after diagnosis is an important question for women diagnosed with this more aggressive type of breast cancer".
But the study found the Mediterranean diet only had a weak and non-significant effect on the risk of developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
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