Giving young girls a diet high in processed foods could increase their breast cancer risk when they’re older, according to scientists.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, a diet rich in hydrogenated fats (often found in processed foods such as biscuits and cakes) appears to boost harmful metabolic changes and encourage abnormal breast cell growth in young girls. This could increase their risk of developing breast cancer when older.
Findings from the US study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that when the fatty acid 10,12 CLA found in hydrogen fats was given to newly weaned female mice, the development of their mammary ducts was enhanced and a condition known as metabolic syndrome appeared to increase as well. Metabolic syndrome is a condition that has been linked the onset of heart disease, obesity and diabetes in previous studies.
According to the researchers, in some mice this abnormal breast cell growth led to breast cancer – and this growth was present despite the fact that the young mice were lacking the hormone oestrogen that is essential for female reproductive development.
Lead researcher Dr Russ Hovey, from the University of California at Davis, said: “The findings of this study are particularly important when we superimpose them on data showing that girls are experiencing breast development at earlier ages, coincident with a growing epidemic of childhood obesity.”
According to Dr Hovey, their findings appear to highlight a discernible link between mammary gland growth, metabolic dysregulation and diet, regardless of oestrogenic stimulation.
“These results lend support to increasing evidence suggesting a relationship between breast cancer risk and early life events that clearly include dietary components and their effects on aspects of metabolic dysregulation,” they concluded.