Saturated fats could 'slightly increase' breast cancer risk

Eating large amounts of saturated fat could "slightly increase" the risk of breast cancer, according to a review published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The analysis – which included 25,000 cases of breast cancer from 45 separate studies – also found an association between high meat consumption and the risk of developing the disease, according to the charity Cancer Research UK.

Previous research on the effects of dietary fat has produced conflicting and confusing results, said the charity.

But the new Canadian report suggests the relationship between breast cancer and dietary fat may be independent of obesity or high calorie consumption, reinforcing the need for a healthy, balanced diet.

Scientists at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Canada reviewed all the published literature on dietary fat and breast cancer and combined results from 45 different studies. The data included 25,000 breast cancer patients and over 580,000 healthy women worldwide.

The survey found that women who ate high amounts of saturated fat were on average around 20% more likely to develop breast cancer than low consumers of fat.

Eating large amounts of monounsaturated fats increased risk by about 10% – a non-significant difference – while overall fat consumption was related to a small, but statistically significant increase in risk of 13%, the research found.

Women who ate large amounts of meat were 17% more likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate little or none.

Scientists from Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council recently found that one of the common methods used to measure fat in the diet may have been helping to obscure its effect on breast cancer.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, which owns the British Journal of Cancer, said: "Tying down the various dietary contributors to cancer is important, as it will allow us to give the best possible advice about how to avoid cancer.

"The effect of dietary fat looks quite small, but the results add weight to the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, low in saturated fat and containing plenty of fruit and vegetables."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 August 2010
UK's Breast Cancer Deaths Fall
Population-based breast cancer mortality rates in the UK have dropped steeply in the last two decades - more than in any other major European country - according to a study published on bmj.com. These results challenge claims that survival after breast cancer is worse in the UK than elsewhere in western Europe.
17 February 2004
Antibiotics could increase risk of breast cancer: study
Using antibiotics could increase a patient's risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, researchers in the US have claimed today. The study, which is published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), involved more than 10,000 women enrolled in Group Health Cooperative over an average of 17 years.
12 April 2006
Breast cancer patient wins Herceptin court battle
A breast cancer patient has won an appeal to receive the drug Herceptin on the NHS. Ann Marie Rogers, 54, from Swindon went to the Court of Appeal after the High Court ruled that Swindon Primary Care Trust had not acted unlawfully in refusing to give her the drug.
30 September 2003
'Next big step' in breast cancer treatment launched
Cancer Research UK scientists will today embark on the next big step towards preventing breast cancer with the launch of a major new trial called IBIS II. The 10-year study will test a new drug called anastrozole and involve 10,000 healthy women who are at an increased risk of the disease.
11 August 2003
HRT users at greater risk of breast cancer, says research
Some kinds of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a much greater effect on a woman's risk of breast cancer than others, according to research published in the Lancet.