Intake of Certain Foods Associated with Postmenopausal Breast Cancer

March 13, 2020

Women who consumed the highest level of dietary advanced glycation end products had a higher risk of breast cancer, particularly advanced stage disease, compared with those who consumed the lowest.

Consuming high levels of dietary advanced glycation end products (AGEs) was associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, in particular advanced-stage tumors, according to data published in Cancer.

AGEs are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream and are inherently found in all food, including raw vegetables (low levels) and red and processed meats (high levels). However, they can also be formed if foods are exposed to high temperatures, such as grilling or frying.

“Although certain lifestyle factors are well known to be associated with certain cancers, such as tobacco, alcohol and obesity, it is less well known if particular types of diets or dietary components contribute to cancer risk independent of their effect on body weight,” study author Dr. Lindsay L. Peterson, an assistant professor in the division of medical oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in an interview with CURE®. “We have preclinical data to suggest that dietary advanced glycation end-products are carcinogenic in multiple cancer types, including breast cancer.”

As a result, Peterson said, the researchers wanted to see if people who consumed more AGEs in their diets had a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The study comprised 183,548 postmenopausal women from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, a prospective cohort analyzing the relation between diet and health outcomes.

Incident invasive breast cancer served as the primary outcome. Researchers estimated AGE intake from a food-frequency questionnaire which in addition to diet asked for demographic information, height, weight, medical and smoking history, physical activity and women’s reproductive histories.

The self-administered, 124-item questionnaire was used to assess eating frequency and portion size, including consumption of alcoholic beverages, over the past year.

During a mean follow-up of 12.8 years, 9,851 cases of invasive breast cancer were identified in the postmenopausal women from the study. Most of the cases were localized (5,001), followed by regional disease (1,763) and distant disease (215).

The researchers identified that women who consumed the highest level of dietary AGEs compared with the lowest had a higher risk of breast cancer, particularly advanced stage breast cancer, which is more likely to be associated with cancer death.

“Additional studies will certainly be needed to confirm our results, but if this is done, then this will allow us to provide women with more specific dietary recommendations regarding cancer prevention than we have previously been able to do,” Peterson said.

Although previous research has shown that lifestyle is a factor in cancer prevention and outcomes, little is known about what specific diets people should follow. However, Peterson noted that it will likely center around lifestyle plans that are personalized to the patient.

“Lifestyle recommendations, including dietary recommendations, need to be personalized for patients just as medical treatments are,” she said. “We want to be able to tailor our lifestyle and dietary recommendations to patients, to make specific recommendations to specific patients based on their own personal characteristics, and for the cancers for which they may be most at risk for. We want our lifestyle recommendations to mirror our practice patterns and become more personalized. Ultimately, we want precision nutrition.”


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