October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We often direct the awareness message to women, recommending steps they can take to detect breast cancer early or to reduce their risk of cancer.
But breast cancer prevention actually begins in childhood. Several recent studies show the relationship of childhood diet to breast cancer risk.
Childhood Diet and Cancer Risk
It’s long been known that early puberty is a risk factor for breast cancer, likely because of the increased length of time the body is exposed to higher levels of estrogen. Interestingly enough, onset of puberty is significantly impacted by certain dietary factors.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012 showed that increased meat and dairy intake is associated with an earlier age of puberty onset. On the other hand, a diet higher in vegetable protein intake was correlated to a later onset of puberty. This study specifically looked at the diet when the children were only 3 to 6 years old.