Friday, March 30, 2007

Undernutrition without malnutrition...

May be the new lifestyle approach to cancer prevention.

While there are certainly disadvantages to life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the women do enjoy a decreased incidence of breast cancer compared to the US.

Polish researchers theorized that the lower mean daily energy intake for the Congo--7.6 MJ/day vs. 15.3 MJ/day for the United States-- lowers levels of ovarian hormones through the African womens' reproductive years. This, in turn, favorably alters the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

In a study done five years ago, Krakow-based scientists found a direct correlation between salivary concentrations of progesterone during the last half of the menstrual cycle and breast cancer rates in groups of women studied from both countries. Not only were the higher hormonal levels in American women proportional to their higher cancer rates, the same mathematical relationship between salivary progesterone and cancer risk held true for populations studied in Nepal, Bolivia, and Poland.

The authors of the study concluded:

The strength of the relation strongly suggests that it is an important biological phenomenon. Furthermore, since ovarian function responds to nutritional status, the risk of breast cancer may be modified if changes are made in a woman's lifestyle.

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