Health Desk: 6 December '17: Women who were on a bad diet in their teen years could develop breast cancer later, researchers said. That's why researchers urged parents to give more attention to what their kids are eating.
They found women who ate the most inflammatory diet – heavy in red meat, sodas, sweet foods and white flour – were up to a third more likely to develop breast cancer in their 20s, 30s or 40s compared to women who thrived on salads and whole grains.
It doesn’t mean that breast cancer is a woman’s fault, but it does show that what you eat early in life could have repercussions decades later, said Dr. Karin Michels of the University of California Los Angeles, who helped lead the study.
“It is actually quite serious,” Michels, who did the work while at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told NBC News. “We should advise our girls and teenagers to eat healthy because breast cancer does seem to have a much earlier origin than we have appreciated in the past. Cancer, in general, takes years, potentially even decades, to develop.”
Breast cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of U.S. women, after lung cancer. Every year, it's diagnosed in 200,000 women and a few men and kills around 40,000.
“A healthy lifestyle early on is much, much more important than we appreciated.” “A healthy lifestyle early on is much, much more important than we appreciated,” Michels said.
Women who remembered having eaten a very highly inflammatory diet as teens were 35 percent more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women who ate the least inflammatory diet, they found.And the more inflammatory foods a woman ate, the higher her risk, Michels said.
Going healthy later in life does not seem to help as much as starting out eating well, Michels said. And women whose diet worsened as they entered middle age did not seem to raise their risk of later breast cancer.