When it comes to breast cancer risk, you may want to play it safe and do everything possible to reduce that risk.  According to a study by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, that may include limited sugar intake, which unfortunately is prominent in Western diets.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The 12-lipoxygenase enzymatic signaling pathway is a major factor to be considered, so researchers conducted 4 studies with mice.  These mice were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 diets.  The diets included sucrose-enriched, starch-control, and fructose-enriched varieties.

The study showed that after 6 months of age, only 30% of the mice on a starch-control diet had tumors.  On the contrary, 50% to 58% of the mice in the sucrose-enriched diet program had mammary tumors.

Peiying Yand, PhD, assistant profess of palliative, rehabilitation, and integrative medicine at MD Anderson, and co-author of the study says “Eating whole foods is the best choice.”  “Added sugar – especially refined fructose – should be reduced in [female patients] diets, and represent a small fraction of total calories consumed,” says Yang.

High-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, processed foods and such, should be limited to no more than 10% of daily calories.  What’s even better is to cut it to 5% of your daily calories, which comes out to be about 9 teaspoons a day for men, and 6 teaspoons a day for women.

Breast cancer risk can also be reduced with exercise (which is good for avoiding other non-communicable diseases as well).  In plain English, intake of soft drinks, sweet tea, fruit juice, sport drinks, candy, desserts, cookies, ice cream, sweetened breakfast cereal and processed food should be avoided or at least reduced.

You may be surprised to find sugar (especially the high-fructose variety) in foods that aren’t sweet, like ketchup.  Always read the label.  Says Yang, “Sugar is hiding everywhere…so read labels carefully.”

It’s important to note the difference between naturally occurring sugar and processed (sugar-added) foods.  Apples have sugar which isn’t harmful to the body, but apple juice may contain high-fructose sugar – which is what the mice were fed.  Reduce breast cancer risk by sticking to whole foods and avoiding processed food items.

Here’s a helpful list of high-fructose foods you should avoid.