• The 2016 Peace, Love & A Cure Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Benefit is held on May 15, 2016 in Alpine, New Jersey.

The 2016 Peace, Love & A Cure Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Benefit is held on May 15, 2016 in Alpine, New Jersey. (Photo : Getty Images/Mike Coppola)

Breast cancer risk increases when adolescent girls eat more of saturated fats than mono- or polyunsaturated fat products. These are the findings of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The research findings suggest that teen who eat high amounts of fatty foods are more likely to have denser breasts 15 years down the line. According to the study authors, denser breasts are an important risk factor for breast cancer.

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Until now, only alcohol consumption was the only dietary factor known to increase the risk of breast cancer. Although a few studies suggest that eating habits play a role in maintaining breast health, the study recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomerkers & Prevention shows that fat consumption during teen years might have an impact as well.

Since breasts undergo a lot of structural changes during adolescence, the research team decided to analyze whether fat intake in early adulthood affects the density of the breast tissue. For the same purpose, the team scrutinized the dietary lifestyle of 301 young girls aged between 8 and 10, who participated in a health-based study conducted in 1988.

Out of the total subjects, the research team followed 177 participants when they had reached the ages between 25 and 29. The breast density of the subjects was measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

After taking into account multiple factors such as education, race, number of live births, adulthood fat and protein consumption, the team found that women who had consumed more of saturated fats during early adulthood and less of mono- and polyunsaturated fats had a greater breast density than whose who consumed less saturated fats.

That is, a woman with the highest saturated fat intake during adolescence had mean percent dense breast volume (DBV) of 21.5 percent, as compared to a woman with the lowest saturated fat consumption, who had a mean DBV of 16.4 percent.

"Overall, our results suggest possible long-term effects of fat intake during adolescence on young adult breast composition," lead author Seungyoun Jung said in a press statement by the American Association for Cancer Research. "If confirmed, the take-home message from our results is that diet consumed in early life is important and may confer chronic disease risk or protective benefits later in life."

While the study results may sound legitimate, Jung says that the team was unable to figure out whether the study results were independent of other factors that may impact breast density, EurekAlert has learned.

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