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Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue

author image Melanie Di Stante
Melanie Di Stante is a registered dietitian and a NCBDE-certified diabetes educator with more than 10 years of experience. She received a bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in human nutrition from the City University of New York. Di Stante has been writing professionally for more than 10 years, contributing to local newspapers and "Today's Dietitian."
Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A doctor discusses xrays with a patient. Photo Credit Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

When a medical professional determines a breast is dense, it means that the breast has more breast tissue, glands and less fat. A high breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer and a lot of attention has been given to the topic recently. A study published in the 2011 "Breast Cancer Research and Treatment" journal followed infants for about 50 years and confirmed similar findings from previous studies, namely that breast density declines with age and increasing body mass index, and dense breasts occur more commonly pre-menopause than post-menopause. Although there is a strong link between breast density and genetics, some dietary factors might also play a role.


Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A chicken wrap with lettuce served with brown rice, vegetables, and a bowl of fruit. Photo Credit Aimee Grenier/iStock/Getty Images

According to the American Cancer Society, ACS, there are no clear links between diet and breast cancer risk. Studies looking at both diet and supplements, such as vitamins, have been conflicting and have not yielded any consensus. The ACS recommends following a healthy diet to include five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting red meats and substituting whole grains for refined grains.

Historical Cohort Study in Minnesota

Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A close-up of a pill organizer filled with vitamins. Photo Credit Vstock LLC/VStock/Getty Images

According to results from a study of breast cancer families in Minnesota, there are a few dietary and supplement factors that have an association with breast density. Published in the 2000 issue of "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention," the study states that among premenopausal women, a decreased intake of saturated fat and increased intakes of vitamin C and E are associated with increased breast density. In postmenopausal women, there is a linear relationship between vitamin B-12 intake and breast density. Researchers call these associations in the Minnesota study small in magnitude but mention that they may have implications for breast cancer risk.

Alcohol and Hypoglycemia

Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A close-up of red wine being poured into a glass. Photo Credit Boarding1Now/iStock/Getty Images

There may not be a significant relationship between alcohol consumption and breast density after accounting for the known influencing variables, such as age, body composition, parity and menopausal status. Yet, in the aforementioned Minnesota historical cohort study, researchers found an inverse relationship between alcohol and breast density in both pre- and postmenopausal women. There was also a positive association between white wine and breast density and an inverse relationship between red wine and breast density.


Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A glass of soymilk next to soybeans on a table with a pink gingham napkin. Photo Credit caroljulia/iStock/Getty Images

There have been a number of inconclusive studies looking at the effect of isoflavones and breast density. One 2010 study in "Human Reproductive Update," however, was a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating isoflavone-rich foods or supplements versus a placebo, which found that intake does not affect breast density in postmenopausal women, but a small increase in density may be seen in premenopausal women. Isoflavones, such as in soy products and supplements, contain hormone-like compounds, which may have an impact on breast cancer risk.


Foods & Supplements That Help Dense Breast Tissue
A mother puts her arms around her two daughters. Photo Credit veronicagomepola/iStock/Getty Images

The consensus among the medical community agrees with the ACS’ sentiments that there is no clear and consistent relationship between diet and breast density. The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program in Michigan claims that there is nothing women can do to decrease the density of their breasts. The Michigan government website goes on to say that breast density is genetic. A study in the "New England Journal of Medicine" in 2002, found that breast density is highly heritable. Among all twins studied, 63 percent of mammographic density was found to be accounted for by genetic factors.

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