In brief: Latin American foods lower estrogen levels, maybe breast cancer risk

In brief

Latin American foods lower estrogen levels, maybe breast cancer risk

Latina women have significantly lower breast cancer rates than women in other ethnic groups. No one is sure why, but researchers at the University of Southern California think it may be the fiber in traditional Latin American foods like beans and corn. Fiber lowers estrogen levels in the blood. Many of the known risk factors for breast cancer (alcohol use, obesity after menopause, postmenopausal hormone use) are related to high estrogen levels.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers selected 255 postmenopausal Latina women participating in the Multiethnic Cohort Study of Diet and Cancer. They assessed fiber intake using questionnaires about eating habits and blood tests for two fiber-related substances. They also measured estrogen levels in the women's blood.

Their main finding: As dietary fiber intake of these women increased, their estrogen levels went down.

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