Everyone loves fast food for a source of comfort, but teenage girls need to be especially cautious when consuming it.
It’s known that a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, and highly processed foods is linked to an increased risk of cancer in general as well as obesity and other health issues.
But a new study in the journal Breast Cancer Research showed that this kind of diet can be especially dangerous for teenage girls when they are going through puberty and their breasts are developing, potentially leading to developing breast cancer in the future.
“While breast cancer treatment is one of the most advanced and successful protocols in oncology, prevention of the disease is the next goal, an outcome that would transform women’s health,” Dr. Steven Quay, MD, PhD, who was not involved in the study, said of the research in a media release.
“Breast development during puberty produces a vulnerable window of several years of time. Any environmental insult, including excessive chest X-rays or the toxic products from fast-food cooking, can be amplified if it occurs during puberty. The understanding of this link between breast development and future breast cancer should be used to inform nutritional guidelines for adolescent girls.”
Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) discovered that fast foods and junk foods have high concentrations of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) — which are harmful compounds that can increase the risk of many diseases when accumulated in high amounts, according to Healthline.
AGEs form when sugar interacts with proteins or fats in the bloodstream.
“Increased AGE levels are associated with increased breast cancer risk, however, their significance has been largely overlooked due to a lack of direct cause-and-effect relationship,” the authors wrote in the study.
Scientists tested the causality by cooking glucose-based rodent food at 248 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, which created products with a spectrum of AGEs usually found in fried or grilled foods, and feeding it to mice.
The mice, all going through puberty, were split into three groups: a control group with a regular mouse diet, a low AGE diet group and a high AGE diet group.
The high AGE group was the only one to generate abnormal breast cells and showed a change in mammary tissue — similar to the changes seen in breast cancer patients at early stages.
This change in humans is seen as increased breast density, which is something that can only be seen through mammograms.
While it’s still unclear exactly why dense breast tissue is linked with breast cancer, it’s believed that the density produces more cells that could turn into abnormal cells, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
Findings did not reveal a direct cause-and-effect link between high AGE foods and breast cancer, however, it does show that the consumption of highly processed foods increases the chance of increased breast density, which increases the future risk of breast cancer.
Further research would need to be conducted in order to get a full grasp of a causal link.
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