Breast Cancer and Fiber.




Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Fiber Breast Cancer
Professional Data: Fiber Breast Cancer


Dietary fiber is a general term that refers to a wide variety of compounds found in plants that are resistant to the digestive enzymes produced by humans. Because dietary fiber is resistant to digestive enzymes, it is not broken down or absorbed, which means it does not provide calories or energy to the body. In general, dietary fibers are various forms of complex carbohydrates that have differing abilities to swell by absorbing water into their structural matrix.

A lack of fiber is usually the result of poor food choices, which results in a diet that is deficient in fiber-containing foods. Consuming a diet lacking in fiber increases the risk of developing gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diverticular disorders, and alterations in glycemic control. It has been recommended that Americans should strive to achieve a total dietary fiber intake of 25 to 30 grams/day, which should preferentially come from foods, not supplements. However, dietary surveys indicate that dietary fiber intake among adults in the United States averages about 15 grams/day, or approximately half the recommended amount.1

A study conducted in Sweden examined the dietary habits of over 11,000 post-menopausal women. The object of this investigation was to examine the effects of diet on the risk of breast cancer. Researchers collected dietary data on plant foods, fiber, and fats using interviews and questionnaires. During follow-up there were 342 cases of breast cancer. After analyzing this data, the results showed that those who had a high intake of fiber had a lower risk of breast cancer when compared to those who had a low intake. In addition, those who had a high fiber, low fat diet had the lowest risk of breast cancer. The authors concluded that, dietary pattern characterised by high fibre and low fat intakes is associated with a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.”2


1. Alaimo K. Dietary intake: vitamins, minerals and fiber of persons age two months and over in the United States: third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: phase 1, 1988-91. Advance Data. 1994;258:1-28.
2. Mattisson I, et al. Intakes of plant foods, fibre and fat and risk of breast cancer - a prospective study in the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. Brit J Canc. 2004;90:122-7.