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Research Spotlight:
Fiber May Prevent Breast Cancer

Coffee Beans Stacked Green CupsThe emphasis on healthy eating in the workplace may be good news when it comes to protecting women against breast cancer. Eating a diet high in fiber (which occurs naturally in vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruit) may reduce the risk of developing the disease, according to one of the largest analyses of the literature, published online in the Annals of Oncology.

The research was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund as part of AICR/WCRF's Continuous Update Project (CUP), an ongoing review of cancer prevention research.

The study found that for every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily – slightly less than a cup of beans – the risk of breast cancer was 5 percent lower. Consuming 20 grams of fiber daily would mean a 10 percent lower risk, and so on.

When comparing women who ate the most fiber to those who ate the least, women who consumed the highest amounts of fiber had a 7 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

According to the study authors, there are several possible explanations as to how dietary fiber may prevent breast cancer, including reducing the amount of circulating estrogen. Fiber may also help with weight control, a known risk factor for postmenopausal cancer.

This new study comes on the heels of one published by AICR/WCRF in May 2011, which concluded that there was convincing evidence that dietary fiber protects against colorectal cancer.

AICR/WCRF will continue to monitor studies in this area, but in the meantime, we continue to recommend making sure that at least 2/3 of your plate is filled with plant foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans) and 1/3 or less with meat and/or dairy foods. This simple, visual approach is called AICR's New American Plate.

For healthy recipes that help you add more fiber into your diet, visit AICR's Test Kitchen.

Coffee Linked to Reduced Endometrial Cancer Risk

Love your morning cup of joe? There has been a great deal of research in recent years looking at the potential benefits of drinking coffee when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer. One of the most recent investigations suggests that coffee may offer protection against endometrial cancer. Published in December 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated the evidence on coffee and endometrial cancer risk and concluded that the results look promising: The authors found a 29 percent reduced risk for developing endometrial cancer when comparing individuals who drank the most coffee compared to those who drank the least. The researchers reported an 8 percent decrease in risk for each cup of coffee consumed daily.

Researchers say that coffee may protect against endometrial cancer in these ways:

  • Chemicals in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, have antioxidant properties that can prevent oxidative damage to DNA.
  • Coffee consumption may reduce levels of estrogen in the bloodstream. Endometrial cancer is associated with elevated levels of estrogen.
  • Drinking coffee has been associated with a decreased risk for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with increased risk for endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the U.S. and AICR's expert report found that obesity is a cause of endometrial cancer and that physical activity reduces risk for this cancer.

So, enjoy your coffee, just remember – it's the coffee that's beneficial, not the cream and sugar!

Published on August 28, 2012

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