22 August, 2005: Eating fried chips at a young age may increase the chances of contracting breast cancer as an adult, shows research in the US.
Harvard Medical School researchers said that in women, for every amount of chips eaten per week in their pre-school days, breast cancer risk is noticeably higher. The breast cancer data has come out of a long-running study among 80,000 nurses, who were studied for decades by a team from the Harvard Medical School. Earlier too, the Nurses’ Health Study has claimed to bring up the links between diet and disease. Some of the data which have come out of the research have been disproved, but the data has sure thrown up some interesting and serious observations.
The study, which was published in the International Journal of Cancer, includes data out of a study of 582 women with breast cancer and 1,569 women without the disease in 1993.
The Harvard Medical School researchers studied diets of the women when they were in the 3-5 age group, asking their mothers for the information, who were quizzed how often their daughters consumed various food products.
According to the Nurses Health study on breast cancer causes, in these women, the risk of contracting breast cancer by the age of 60 is about one out of 25. Karin Michels and her colleagues studied that eating chips just once weekly before they reach the age of 5 would raise that chance to about one in 20 — an risk increase of 27%.
Potatoes, the team finds, are not responsible for breast cancer - it is the frying which is villain. Frying in fat high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids could be the trigger for breast cancer.
“Researchers are finding more evidence that diet early in life could play a role in the development of diseases in women later in life. This study provides additional evidence that breast cancer may originate during the early phases of a woman’s life and that eating habits during that phase may be particularly important,” said Dr Michels.
Information on the girls' diet was dependent on the mother’s ability to recall her daughter’s diet. So, the data from the study should be taken with some caution, said Dr Michels.
She added: “Mothers were asked to recall their daughter’s pre-school diet after the participants’ breast cancer status was known, and it is possible that mothers of women with breast cancer recalled their daughter’s diet differently than mothers of healthy women. Other foods perceived as less healthy, such as hot dogs or ice-cream, however, were not associated with breast cancer risk.”
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT