Poor diet during teens, early adulthood may raise breast cancer risk?
As a fifth-grade teacher, something which concerned me and my fellow teachers was how 4th and 5th grade girls were already showing signs of maturity. Adolescents in my generation (I am 61), typically did not mature until the period from 7th-9th grade, and even in some cases, high school. So why is this happening and why?
I just read an article in Medical News Today on the relationship between a poor diet in teens and increased breast cancer. The conclusion was logical…changes in our diet. The trend to more processed and fast foods, and busy lifestyles where the family meal is purchased rather than prepared, has consequences.
The study states:
“The risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer may be higher for women who have a poor diet during adolescence and early adulthood.”
The study implies that it’s the diet-induced inflammation while the breast tissue is developing that may result in pre-menopausal breast cancer. It discovered there was up to a 41 percent greater breast cancer risk with pro-inflammatory diet during the pre-teen and teenage years. The researchers analyzed the data of 45,204 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II.
Some factors in a pro-inflammatory diet are high sugar, processed and fast foods, and protein and dairy from animals raised on growth hormones. The typical teen-age diet often consists of pizza, fries, hamburgers and sodas. The “super-size” generation of fast food coupled with the lack of exercise promotes inflammation.
“Although the study cannot prove cause and effect between a pro-inflammatory diet during adolescence or early adulthood and premenopausal breast cancer, the team believes that the results further highlight the importance of a healthful diet.”
The old adage, “you are what you eat” needs to be taught in schools. So it’s clear that a healthy diet and lifestyle is important for all ages. If you are a cancer survivor and make healthy lifestyle changes, you are not only benefiting yourself, you are helping your children avoid future disease.
What can we do? Lobby schools to serve healthy meals, teach nutrition and encourage healthy lifestyle. More discussion on “whole foods” and returning to what our grandparents ate, the basics is needed. Also reading labels when shopping and teaching children to make healthy choices will help them avoid junk foods. Parents control most of what adolescents eat, so set a good example and include your children in food choice and preparation.