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High-Fat Diet Tied to Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds

Update Date: Apr 23, 2014 02:01 PM EDT

A high-fat diet has been linked to several health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In a new study, researchers found another health consequence of eating a high-fat diet. The team reported that dietary fat might be linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of breast cancer.

"In our study we confirm that saturated fat intake was positively associated with breast cancer risk," lead author Sabina Sieri, from the Fondazione IRCCS National Cancer Institute in Milan, Italy, stated reported in FOX News. "Saturated fatty acids intake should be as low as possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet."

For this study, the researchers reviewed data on around 337,000 women from a previously published study. The participants came from 10 European countries and had answered questions about their diet and lifestyle. The women were tracked for an average of 11 to 12 years during which nearly 10,000 of them were diagnosed with breast cancer.

The researchers grouped the breast cancer cases into specific subtypes. For example, tumors that reacted differently to estrogen and progesterone would be classified separately. The researchers then examined the link between diet and types of breast cancer. They found that women who ate more saturated fats were 28 percent more likely to have breast cancer tumors that had receptors for both hormones. The researchers noted that eating a diet high in saturated fats did not increase breast cancer risk if the tumors did not have the receptors for estrogen and progesterone.

The researchers also found that a high fat diet was tied to an increased risk of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative breast cancer. HER2 is often used to help determine how fast a tumor progresses. A high fat diet was not linked to an increased risk of HER2 positive breast cancer.

The researchers and experts noted that other uncontrolled factors could have affected the women's breast cancer risk. However, since saturated fats are not healthy in general, avoiding them could be highly beneficial. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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