Asian women who consume a Western-style diet which is high in meat, milk, white bread and puddings may be putting themselves at higher risk of breast cancer, new research has suggested.
A recent study of over 1,500 Chinese women showed that those who ate a “meat-sweet” diet were more than twice as likely to develop the disease as opposed to those on a vegetable-based diet.
Breast cancer rates in Asia are traditionally lower than those of the West but that is seen to be changing with the disease on the increase.
The study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention suggested that increasing obesity rates may be key to the dramatic escalation of the disease.
The two-fold increase in risk for females on a Western style diet was found only among post-menopausal women who were also overweight.
Subjects with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 were found to be the most at risk.
“Low consumption of a western dietary pattern plus successful weight control may protect against breast cancer in a traditionally low risk Asian population that is poised to more broadly adopt the food characteristics of western societies,” said researchers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center who penned the research.
Sugar and Milk
The “meat-sweet” diet that researchers identified also included various fish, meats and also sweets, puddings, white bread and milk.
The Chinese Anti-Cancer Association (CACA) reports that the incidence and death rates of breast cancer in China’s major cities rose respectively by 37% and 38.9% during the 1990s.
The rise is explained partly by better diagnosis, but environmental factors – including dietary changes, especially the shift towards the western diet – are also thought to be key.
Western scientists have estimated that obesity is the root cause of around 10% of breast cancer cases.
Over one hundred studies show that post-menopausal women who are also overweight or obese have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer however said that it was still very difficult to differentiate between the various factors, and that the study omitted several issues such as having children at a later age, lack of exercise or taking the contraceptive pill.