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Trans fatty acids and Breast Cancer

Research studies had showed that the risk of breast cancer was doubled in women having higher serum levels of trans fatty acids. The trans fatty acids studied are those from industrial sources (processed foods, processed bread, processed pastries, cakes, potato chips, pizza dough, etc.).

Unlike Asian countries, where the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids from fish on breast cancer risk was clearly demonstrated, a protective effect against breast cancer was not found in this study.

The unhealthy effects of trans fatty acids on cardiovascular risk have been well established since the early 1990s, yet their impact on breast cancer risk remained to be elucidated.

The analysis of trans and cis fatty acids showed that breast cancer risk increases with the increase in trans fatty acid level, reflecting processed food consumption. These results show that women with elevated serum levels of trans fatty acid have almost twice the risk of developing breast cancer, compared to women with the lowest levels.

Protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer risk was clearly demonstrated in Asian countries, where fish consumption is much higher than in Europe or in North America, this protective effect could not be measured in this study, probably due to considerably lower consumption of fish among the patients tested.

In industrialized countries, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Among the risk factors that may lend themselves to primary prevention, diet shows strong potential, as a single but consistent change in dietary habits could lower the risk of breast cancer, subject to clear identification of responsible nutrients. Among those, dietary lipids could play a major role.