The potential contribution of dietary factors to breast cancer prevention

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Abstract

Breast cancer (BC), the leading cancer in women, is increasing in prevalence worldwide, concurrent with western metabolic epidemics, that is, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, and shares major risk factors with these diseases. The corresponding potential for nutritional contributions toward BC prevention is reviewed and related to critical stages in the life cycle and their implications for carcinogenic and pathometabolic trajectories. BC initiation potentially involves diet-related pro-oxidative, inflammatory, and procarcinogenic processes, that interact through combined lipid/fatty acid peroxidation, estrogen metabolism, and related DNA-adduct/depurination/mutation formation. The pathometabolic trajectory is affected by high estrogen, insulin, and growth factor cascades and resultant accelerated proliferation/progression. Anthropometric risk factors – high birth weight, adult tallness, adiposity/BMI, and weight gain – are often reflective of these trends. A sex-based nutritional approach targets women’s specific risk in western obesogenic environments, associated with increasing fatness, estrogen metabolism, n-6 : n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio, and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid conversion to proinflammatory/carcinogenic eicosanoids, and effects of timing of life events, for example, ages at menarche, full-term pregnancy, and menopause. Recent large-scale studies have confirmed the effectiveness of the evidence-based recommendations against BC risk, emphasizing low-energy density diets, highly nutritious plant-based regimes, physical activity, and body/abdominal adiposity management. Better understanding of dietary inter-relationships with BC, as applied to food intake, selection, combination, and processing/preparation, and recommended patterns, for example, Mediterranean, DASH, plant-based, low energy density, and low glycemic load, with high nutrient/phytonutrient density, would increase public motivation and authoritative support for early/timely prevention, optimally merging with other dietary/health goals, for lifelong BC prevention.

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