Diet and Breast Cancer: insights from the EPIC study

two hands offering fresh spinach leaves up to the camera

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) [i] study is one of the world’s largest ongoing cohort studies[ii], following over half a million people from ten European countries for almost fifteen years. Among its main objectives is to understand the influence that diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors have on the incidence of cancer and other chronic illnesses.

The study’s recent findings on breast cancer are particularly revealing, and affect younger and older women in different ways.

by Professor Luis Costa Weight gain may increase risk The EPIC study confirms a strong connection between excess body weight and increased incidence of breast cancer in menopausal women. Moreover, post-surgery weight gain has been found to increase the risk of cancer recurrence. The majority of breast cancers contain hormonal receptors (oestrogens and/or progesterone receptors) and are considered hormone-dependent in some way. However, the increased incidence of breast cancer due to high BMI (body mass index) is observed both in cancers showing hormonal receptors and in those with none at all. The challenge for scientists and doctors is to understand what exactly occurs in Read more