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Dietary patterns influence breast cancer risk

29Breast cancer is one of the most common of all cancers and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women across the world. In India, it is the second most common type of cancer to affect women, and the incidence of breast cancer has been rising rapidly, affecting more women in urban areas.In 2002, the number of women in the country affected by breast cancer was 80,000. In a decade (2012), the figure doubled to 144,937. The incidence of breast cancer can be significantly reduced with increased awareness of these risk factors; one of these risk factors is dietary.The association between red meat and cancer is something that we have often heard about, but it is something that most of us have never taken seriously, as most studies so far had been inconclusive because of methodology. In recent years, however, there has been significant progress in research and a peer reviewed study that was published in BMJ in 2014 clearly demonstrated this link.The study was conducted to investigate the association between dietary protein sources in early adulthood and risk of breast cancer.As stated by lead researcher Maryam S Farvid, a lot of the ambiguity from previous studies can be attributed to the time period during which exposure is measured. Farvid said that this particular study focused specifically on adolescence and early adulthood because this is the period when the mammary glands are most susceptible to carcinogen exposure.Another problem with many previous studies is that they did not take into account age groups or changes in consumption patterns. This basically means that many of the women in the studies were past the age of 40 and although they consumed significant amounts of red meat during adolescence and early adulthood, these dietary patterns changed towards middle age.Reported dietary patterns at the present, therefore, had no bearing on current health outcomes that may have been driven by past eating habits.If you love eating those pork chops and salivate at the very mention of a beef steak, you will be predisposed to being dismissive of such studies that force you to question your world view, or your taste buds! But these findings are noteworthy because the study took into account the limitations and flaws in previous models and made every effort to address them.The study did not exclude women above 40, but it took into account the age of participants and this was factored into the results. The study which began in 1991, continued until 2011, with the eating habits of each participant being monitored during the 20-year period. The findings of the study were revealing to say the least, but there are practical solutions even for those with a craving for red meat.The studies conducted by Farvid present us with some clear facts that should help women make better dietary decisions taking into account breast cancer risk assessment. Here are some pertinent facts that are worth noting:From the data collected, it becomes apparent that the risk of breast cancer from red meat consumption is very real although the reasons are not as clear. The risk in fact increased by as high as 22% in women who consumed red meat 1.5 times a day, as opposed to amongst women who simply consumed red meat once a week.Findings reveal that each additional serving of red meat increased the risk of breast cancer by 13%. This makes it a significant and controllable dietary risk.The risk assessment in this scenario was independent of other known risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, oral contraceptive use and age. Young women on the pill should be most worried and cautious with their red meat intake, as the strongest connection between the intake of red meat and increased breast cancer risk is in this demographic. Young women on the pill experience an increased risk of breast cancer, with each additional red meat serving increasing the risk by 54%.-Internet