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Total Fat and Saturated Fat Increase Breast Cancer Risk: EPIC Study

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 7 (April 22, 2016)

with Dr. James Meschino

Research Topic: Total Fat and Saturated Fat Increase Breast Cancer Risk: EPIC Study
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, April, 2014. Vol. 106, No.5


Results from the EPIC Study showed that women who consume the highest amount of total fat, and particularly saturated fat, in their diet, have up to a 50% increased for breast cancer compared to women eating the least amount of total fat and saturated fat.

The EPIC study analyzed data from 10,062 Breast Cancer patients with 11.5 years of follow-up. The EPIC study has been following 337,327 women living in 10 different European countries. EPIC is the acronym standing for “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition”. It’s one of the largest human cancer studies ever undertaken, so we believe the results are meaningful. Many previous human studies, as well animal studies, show that total fat and especially saturated fat, increase breast cancer risk.

The diagnosis of breast cancer is divided into various subclasses of disease:

  1. Estrogen Receptor Positive or Estrogen Receptor Negative.
  2. Progesterone Receptor Positive or Progesterone Receptor Negative.
  3. Her-2 Positive or Her-2 Negative.

The EPIC study showed that a high total fat diet and especially saturated fat increased risk of Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer, and that Saturated Fat, in particular, increases risk of the very aggressive – Her-2 positive breast cancer. In fact, it seems that saturated fat may cause the over-expression of the Her-2 receptor that greatly increases the risk of this form of breast cancer.

As only 10-20% of breast cancer is known to be due to genetic inheritance, the findings of the EPIC study appear to very meaningful – 50% increased risk of breast cancer linked to high fat and especially high saturated fat diet. As a means to prevent breast cancer, I have encouraged women over the years to reduce their total fat and saturated fat intake by eliminating or greatly reducing: Beef, Pork, High fat dairy products, deep fried foods, creamy salad dressings, breaded meats, high fat pastries etc. This is primarily where the bad fats are found that increase risk of heart disease and certain cancers, including breast cancer. This is according to the EPIC and other studies. I hope you’ll pay heed to these findings and share this information with the women you know.


S. Sieri, P. Chiodini, C. Agnoli, V. Pala, F. Berrino, A. Trichopoulou, V. Benetou, E. Vasilopoulou, M.-J. Sanchez, M.-D. Chirlaque, P. Amiano, J. R. Quiros, E. Ardanaz, G. Buckland, G. Masala, S. Panico, S. Grioni, C. Sacerdote, R. Tumino, M.-C. Boutron-Ruault, F. Clavel-Chapelon, G. Fagherazzi, P. H. M. Peeters, C. H. van Gils, H. B. Bueno-de-Mesquita, H. J. van Kranen, T. J. Key, R. C. Travis, K. T. Khaw, N. J. Wareham, R. Kaaks, A. Lukanova, H. Boeing, M. Schutze, E. Sonestedt, E. Wirfalt, M. Sund, A. Andersson, V. Chajes, S. Rinaldi, I. Romieu, E. Weiderpass, G. Skeie, E. Dagrun, A. Tjonneland, J. Halkjaer, K. Overvard, M. A. Merritt, D. Cox, E. Riboli, V. Krogh. Dietary Fat Intake and Development of Specific Breast Cancer Subtypes, JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2014. Vol 106, issue 5.


Good luck with your wellness goals.

Dr. James Meschino

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