DASH diet may help reduce breast cancer risk

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What’s the Big Idea?

Eating healthily has always been key to maintaining good overall health. But could it also help in preventing diseases like breast cancer?

There’s a particular diet known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) that scientists are looking at closely.

The question is: Can sticking to the DASH diet lower the risk of developing breast cancer? Some studies suggest yes, others aren’t so sure.

This review digs deep into the research to find out what’s really going on. The researchers have systematically analyzed multiple studies and pooled their results using a method called meta-analysis.

The DASH Diet – What’s That?

Before going any further, let’s clarify what the DASH diet is. It’s a dietary plan specifically designed to help reduce high blood pressure, a condition also known as hypertension.

But it’s not all about blood pressure. The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, making it a generally healthy way of eating.

The Hunt for Answers: Searching the Studies

To answer our question, the team turned to the world of scientific research. They scoured several databases including PubMed, Web of Science, CNKI, and Wanfang Data.

The researchers wanted to find all relevant studies right from the beginning of these databases up until July 2022.

They were particularly interested in studies that measured DASH diet adherence and breast cancer risk. And to keep things as clear and unbiased as possible, we used a random-effects model for our analysis.

Results: What Did We Find?

The team found eleven studies that fit our criteria. These involved a whopping 23,254 breast cancer cases and 449,273 participants in total.

They combined all the data from these studies and, voila, we found that sticking to the DASH diet seems to lower the risk of breast cancer.

Let’s break that down a bit. This RR means that people who followed the DASH diet most closely had a 21% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who adhered to it the least.

A Closer Look: Different Studies, Different Locations, Different Stages of Life

The team didn’t stop there. They also looked at different types of studies separately. In case-control studies, where people with and without breast cancer are compared, the association was even stronger.

This means that the breast cancer risk was more than halved in people sticking to the DASH diet.

But what about prospective cohort studies, where healthy people are followed over time to see who develops breast cancer? Here, the link was slightly weaker but still present (RR = 0.92).

The team also found interesting differences based on location. In Asian countries, the DASH diet seemed to have a stronger protective effect against breast cancer compared to the United States.

Finally, the team looked at whether menopausal status made a difference. It turns out that postmenopausal women who followed the DASH diet had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.

What Does All This Mean?

This research suggests that there’s a strong link between sticking to the DASH diet and a lower risk of breast cancer. This finding could potentially offer a new approach to breast cancer prevention through dietary changes.

However, we must remember that our study is based on the analysis of other studies. Each of those had their own methods and population groups.

So, while these results are promising, the researchers still need more research to confirm these findings.

The research was published in Frontiers in Nutrition.

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