Fibre could cut breast cancer risk

In collaboration with the Press Association

Dietary fibre could play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer for pre-menopausal women, University of Leeds scientists have said.

The researchers, who have been following the dietary habits of 35,000 women over the past seven years, said that eating wholegrain cereal or bread could provide protection against the disease.

Statistics gathered over the period suggest that pre-menopausal women who had a higher intake of fibre cut their risk of breast cancer by half.

"Cancer Research UK already advises eating a diet rich in fibre to reduce the risk of bowel cancer," said science information officer at the Charity Ed Yong.

"This study suggests that it could help protect against breast cancer in younger women too.

"Until now, the evidence that fibre could reduce the risk of breast cancer has been inconsistent. This study suggests that this is because any protective effects are limited to women before their menopause.

"The study further highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet for reducing the risk of cancer."

Researchers remain unclear on the precise cause of the effect, but said that dietary fibre is rich in vitamins and other nutrients with important anti-oxidant properties .

They added that fibre can also regulate levels of the female hormone oestrogen, and balance insulin levels in the body. High levels of both hormones are linked to breast cancer risk.

The research has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.