Starch Intake May Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer (Guest Post)

The results of an intensive seven-year-long research study that involved over 2,600 women—the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Dietary Intervention Trial—were presented at last year's CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium with some surprising findings. The WHEL study participants had all suffered from breast cancer prior to participation and had apparently successfully completed breast cancer treatment. This specific study was designed to assess for any correlations between a healthy lifestyle and a recurrence of breast cancer. Results indicated that a higher consumption of starchy foods such as pasta or potatoes is associated with an increased risk of tumor recurrence. This association was identified specifically for dietary starch intake and not with other carbohydrates.

Positive and Negative Dietary Associations

Breast cancer researchers have long associated certain diets and foods with an increased risk of breast cancer, such as diets high in red meats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. Conversely, diets high in fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and unrefined foods are generally associated with breast health. As you've probably heard through one media source or another, aim for a naturally colorful diet of blues, reds, dark greens and orange colors. Further, these dietary changes don't necessarily mean that your entire food habits have to change—surprisingly, even a couple of cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of developing the disease.

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Breastfeeding Reduces Breast Cancer Risk for Women

I've always been fascinated by the reputed benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and their babies and have written about both in the past (See Breastfeeding Benefits for Mothers and Breastfeeding Benefits for Babies).

Breastfeeding has long been known to have many positive health implications and one of those most widely reported is the fact that it may help to prevent breast cancer. My thoughts on this particular benefit are that if it can help prevent just one case of breast cancer developing then it's something that must be worth a try. I know it was one of the main reasons that I breastfed each of my babies.

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Breast Cancer Without a Lump

Ever heard of inflammatory breast cancer? No, well neither had I until I read the following repost by Amy at And after reading it I urge all my visitors, male and female, to become aware of this particular breast cancer, know the signs and symptoms and make sure your GP is aware of it too.

Just a few weeks ago, "WhyMommy" from Toddler Planet was nursing her baby when she realised something was amiss. Thinking she may have a breast infection of sorts she went to her doctor to get it checked out.

The diagnosis could not have been more unexpected.

It turned out she had inflammatory breast cancer, a particularly rare type of cancer which does not present itself with a lump and which is often misdiagnosed as mastitis due to the similarity of symptoms.

WhyMommy is now using her blog to help spread awareness of this dreadful disease and is asking bloggers everywhere to do what they can to make people more aware of it.

The following is a repost from WhyMommy's blog. Please read it and spread the word. You may just save a life. Thanks.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too.  I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked.  Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care.  But I want the word to get out.  I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis?  Is it a rash?  Am I overreacting?  This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.