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In The News: Fiber May Protect Women from Breast Cancer

8/1/2011 11:10:04 AM

Tags: Study, Fiber, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Diet, Health, Sarah McCabe, In The News

S.McCabeBreast cancer is one of the scariest diseases a person can get. While some people are more at-risk than others, it can often seem to come out of the blue for people who’ve never had a history of the disease in their family. However, there may be some ways you can protect yourself from breast cancer and improve your overall health in general.

A recent study has found that women who eat more dietary fiber are less likely to have breast cancer, according to Chinese researchers. The research included 10 previous studies on women’s diets and followed the women up to 18 years to see who developed breast cancer. Out of 710,000 women, scientists found that those in the top fifth of fiber intake were 11 percent less likely to develop breast cancer later in life.

Still, researchers aren’t sure if fiber itself is a direct link to lower cancer risk. The study could only show associations of fiber intake and cancer. It couldn’t show what would happen if people changed their lifestyles. High dietary fiber intake is linked with better overall health, which is a possible factor in breast cancer prevention. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends that Americans get more daily fiber. So while it’s not completely certain that adding more fiber to your diet will decrease your risk of breast cancer, it can do no harm. In fact, fiber is incredibly beneficial to your body’s general health.

Eating more dietary fiber can lower your risk of developing certain health problems and diseases from diabetes and heart disease to gallstones and kidney stones. Fiber can also provide relief for constipation and hemorrhoids. Other known benefits of fiber include lower cholesterol and weight loss. 

8-1-11 apples
Skinned fruits are a great source of fiber; most of the fiber is in the skins.
hoto by Incase/Courtesy Flickr 

Here are a few ways to add more fiber to your daily diet:

• Start off your day with a fiber-packed bowl of cereal such as shredded wheat or raisin bran. Some brands of cereal (such as Fiber One and FiberPlus) come specially fortified with extra fiber to give you that added boost.
• Use whole grains instead of traditional refined grains. Switch out your white bread for whole grain bread. Perhaps try whole wheat pasta the next time you make spaghetti. While baking, you can even substitute 1/3 of your all-purpose white flour with wheat bran, which is jam packed with fiber.
• Add more beans and nuts to your diet. Try a new healthy bean soup or sprinkle a tablespoon of nuts on your afternoon salad. 
• When you’re craving an afternoon snack, there are many delicious options that are high in fiber. Go for some popcorn, edamame beans, whole-grain crackers with hummus or yogurt with granola. Many fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber as well. Munch on some broccoli and carrot sticks or grab an apple, banana or a handful of berries. 

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