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Our diet in adolescence has a major impact on future health
Nutrition is an important factor that affects our health. Researchers have now found that food consumed in our youth can have a major impact on future health. Teenage girls who consume high amounts of saturated fats or insufficiently healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids are at increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
Young girls need to be extra careful about what they eat when they are teenagers. Improper nutrition can have dangerous consequences. Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine have now found that eating large amounts of saturated fats can make adult women more likely to develop breast cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention".
Women with higher breast density are at greater risk of breast cancer
A new study found that consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids can cause female teenagers to develop denser breast tissue. A higher breast density also increases the risk of developing breast cancer, the authors explain. The researchers found that eating a lot of "normal" fat did not cause a large change in breast density. The difference in breast density was only extremely modest, explains lead author Professor Joanne Dorgan from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Apparently, different fats play different roles in the formation of breast tissue, doctors speculate. Our time as a teenager is a critical time for breast development, the authors add.
Study examines 600 subjects over several years
The research team analyzed the data of more than 600 children for the study, all subjects were between the ages of eight and ten years. The authors say that more than 300 of the participants were girls. The test subjects reported several times on the details of their diet during the study period. Later, MRI scans were used in a follow-up exam to measure the breast density of the female participants, the doctors explain. The women were 25 to 29 years old at the follow-up examination. It was recognized that a higher intake of unhealthy fats and a lower intake of healthy fats could lead to an increased likelihood of developing denser breast tissue, the experts explain.
Which foods contain saturated and unsaturated fatty acids?
A healthy diet should contain about five percent saturated fatty acids, the doctors advise. Beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, butter, cream and cheese, for example, contain so-called saturated fats. Fatty fish, avocados, nuts, olives and liquid vegetable oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, the researchers explain. Women who consumed the most saturated fat during adolescence derived about 13 percent of the total calories from saturated fat, doctors say. These women had an average breast tissue density of 21.5 percent. Women who ate the least saturated fat in the study, derived about eight percent of the total calories from fat, the authors said. Such participants had a breast density of 16.4 percent.
When women consumed very small amounts of healthy fats as teenagers, the breast tissue thickened. However, it is not known whether the measured increased breast density in 25- to 29-year-old women persists at the age of 40 or 50. At this age, the risk of breast cancer usually begins to increase, the scientists add. (as)