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Dietary Fat Intake in Adolescence May Affect Breast Density

Last Updated: May 20, 2016.

Teens who eat high amounts of saturated fats or low amounts of healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats tend to have denser breasts 15 years later, according to a study published online May 19 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

FRIDAY, May 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who eat high amounts of saturated fats or low amounts of healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats tend to have denser breasts 15 years later, according to a study published online May 19 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Joanne Dorgan, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues reviewed data from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children, started in 1988, enrolling more than 600 children between ages 8 and 10. More than 300 of the children were girls. On multiple occasions, the participants reported details of their diets. Later, in a follow-up of the same group, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure breast density in 177 female participants when they were ages 25 to 29.

The researchers found that higher intake of saturated fats and lower intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats during adolescence were associated with an increased risk of denser breasts. Women who ate the most saturated fat during adolescence got about 13 percent of total calories from saturated fat. These women had an average breast density of 21.5 percent. Women who ate the least saturated fat -- about 8 percent of total calories from fat -- had a breast density of 16.4 percent. A similar difference was found for those who ate the lowest levels of healthy fats during the teen years compared to those who ate the highest levels. Eating more healthy fats was linked with less breast density.

"This is an initial study; it would need to be confirmed before making any recommendation [about diet]," Dorgan told HealthDay.

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