Fibrocystic Breast Changes
Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations
Dietary factors appear to play an important role in the development of both benign fibrocystic changes and breast cancer, and specific components of a healthy diet may significantly reduce the risk of developing fibrocystic changes and benign breast disease (Frazier 2013; Baer 2003; Berkey 2013; Su 2010). For instance, dietary fiber improves estrogen metabolism, and diets high in fiber have been associated with reduced incidence of some benign breast disorders (Jones 2011).
A study in 675 women with benign breast conditions, compared to 1070 healthy controls, found that greater consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased the risk of proliferative fibrocystic breast conditions and breast cancer. This effect was most clear when comparing the one-quarter of women with proliferative breast conditions or breast cancer who ate the most fruits and vegetables to controls (Li 2005). A similar finding on the importance of diet came from a study that compared 121 women with benign breast disease to 121 women with non-breast related conditions. This study found that several dietary components were associated with significantly reduced odds of benign breast disease. Higher citrus fruit consumption was associated with 57% reduced odds, and higher non-citrus fruit with 65% reduced odds (Galvan-Portillo 2002).
Several studies have shown that women who consume more vegetable fats, vegetable protein, fiber, and nuts, and less animal fat, red meat, and alcohol are less likely to develop fibrocystic and benign breast changes later in life. Studies have yet to determine if adult women who adopt this dietary approach are at reduced risk of fibrocystic changes, but this strategy, as reflected in a Mediterranean dietary pattern, has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk in adult women. Thus, a fiber-rich, plant-based diet high in healthy fats from sources such as olive oil and fish, and low in red meat, is a reasonable preventive strategy (Frazier 2013; Baer 2003; Berkey 2012; Berkey 2013; Su 2010; Kakkoura 2015; Castello 2014; de Lorgeril 2014; Escrich 2011).