Diets high in fiber may have an important impact on breast cancer risk

A number of studies over the years have linked high fiber consumption with lowered risks of developing certain diseases and cancers, the reasons for which may include supporting a healthy microbiome. Whether eating higher amounts of fiber potentially has a beneficial impact on breast cancer risk has remained in contention, but a new analysis of existing research has found a positive link between the two.

Past studies have linked eating high-fiber foods with things like lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and obesity. The reason is thought to be the role fiber has in helping maintain healthy gut bacteria, which may play a major role in both physical and mental health. Fiber can be found in a number of plant products, including foods like whole grain wheat and corn, bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more.

Researchers with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently published a new analysis that evaluated 20 different observation studies. Based on the data, the analysis found that people who ate the highest amounts of fiber had a fairly significant reduction in breast cancer risk — 8-percent at the highest.

The study found, based on the existing data, that total fiber intake, including both soluble and insoluble fiber, was linked to reduced risk in both pre- and post-menopausal women. As well, soluble fiber in particular was linked to lowered breast cancer risk.

Soluble fiber refers to the type of fiber found in things like barley, peas, lentils, seeds, certain vegetables and fruit, and oat bran. Insoluble fiber includes the skins of certain fruits and seeds, brown rice, and whole wheat. The researchers note that the findings don't mean that fiber itself is the direct cause of the lowered breast cancer risk — rather, it indicates that certain lifestyle factors, such as eating a healthy diet, may have an impact on one's odds of developing this deadly disease.