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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Children who eat fries raise breast cancer risk

August 17, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Very young children who eat French
fries frequently have a much higher risk of breast cancer as
adults, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

A study of American nurses found that one additional
serving of fries per week at ages three to five increased
breast cancer risk by 27 percent.

“Researchers are finding more evidence that diet early in
life could play a role in the development of diseases in women
later in life,” said Dr. Karin Michels, of Brigham and Women’s
Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, who led the
study.

“This study provides additional evidence that breast cancer
may originate during the early phases of a woman’s life and
that eating habits during that phase may be particularly
important to reduce future risk of breast cancer.”

For their study, Michels and colleagues used an ongoing
survey of female registered nurses. They studied 582 women with
breast cancer and 1,569 women free of breast cancer in 1993.

Writing in the International Journal of Cancer, the
researchers said they looked at the women’s diets and at
questionnaires filled out by the mothers of the participants.

One risk factor for breast cancer stood out: women whose
mothers who said their daughters ate French fries had a higher
risk of breast cancer. This increased 27 percent for each
weekly serving reportedly eaten.

“These data have to be interpreted cautiously since the
observed association between consumption of French fries and
breast cancer is dependent on the validity of the maternal
recall of the diet,” said Michels.

“Mothers were asked to recall their daughter’s preschool
diet after the participants’ breast cancer status was known and
it is possible that mothers of women with breast cancer
recalled their daughter’s diet differently than mothers of
healthy women,” she added.

“Other foods perceived as less healthy such as hot dogs or
ice cream however, were not associated with breast cancer
risk.”

A high-fat diet has been linked with breast cancer, which
affects more than 200,000 U.S. women a year and is expected to
kill 40,000 this year.