Fibre curbs estrogen levels in breast cancer patients

July 14, 2004 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Fibre curbs estrogen levels in breast cancer patients

A high-fibre, low-fat diet reduces blood levels of estrogen in women with breast cancer, say researchers from the University of California, San Diego. This may help keep the disease in check, as breast cancer is sometimes driven by female hormones.

The results of this study show that diet composition, especially increased fibre intake, may affect levels of reproductive steroid hormones in women. Previous studies that have examined change in diet composition and steroid hormone levels were confounded by concurrent weight loss.

The researchers studied 291 women at an average of 2 years after a diagnosis of breast cancer. They were divided into one group given dietary advice for cancer prevention and comparison group given general dietary guidelines.

Those in the cancer-prevention diet group were advised to have a high intake of vegetables and fruit and a low intake of fat. They also attended 12 cooking classes, had telephone counselling and were given relevant printed materials. Those in the comparison group attended four cooking classes not aimed at cancer prevention and were given standard government dietary materials.

At one-year follow-up, the high-fibre, low-fat group reported a significantly reduced intake of energy from fat (down to 21 percent) compared to those in the comparison group (down to 28 percent). They also had a significantly higher intake of fibre (29 grams per day) than the comparison group (22 grams per day). No significant weight loss was seen in either group.

In the high-fibre, low-fat group there was a significant drop in estrogen, while in the comparison group there was a slight increase. Researchers attributed the largest affect on estrogen levels to the change in fibre intake.

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