Most of us already know about the benefits of eating a high-fiber diet: According to WebMD, it's great for your heart and weight, it's good for your energy levels, and people who eat a lot of it could also be less likely to get diabetes. Now a new study suggests there's another good reason to load up on healthy, fiber-rich foods: It could help prevent breast cancer among women.
According to the report, published this week in Pediatrics, eating a healthy amount of fiber (an average of 28 grams a day) during the high school years could significantly lower a woman's risks of getting breast cancer later on. Of the 44,000 women surveyed in this study, those who ate a lot of fiber during that period were 24 percent less likely to get breast cancer before menopause than women who ate it in smaller quantities (14 grams or less). They were 16 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes.
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According to NPR, the authors of the report point to multiple possible reasons for this reduced risk. One is the notion that fiber-rich foods might reduce circulating estrogen levels. Another is that dietary fibers can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which could improve insulin sensitivity.
Why does it matter when the fiber is consumed? According to NPR, adolescence can be an especially critical time for the development of cancer risk factors, so it's especially important for young women to load up on dietary fiber during this important window.