Oils that cause Breast Cancer

by Kerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner.
With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine.

(NaturalNews) Doctors and nutritionists often cite high fat diets as a risk factor for breast cancer, but more important than the AMOUNT of fat eaten is the TYPE of fat. In particular a component of certain vegetable oils, Linoleic Acid, is a huge risk factor for breast cancer in animals and may be for humans as well.

Linoleic acid, not to be confused with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) or alpha-linolenic acid, is a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in corn and safflower oil: oils that require modern centrifuges, heat treating and solvents in order to be made. Calling them ‘vegetable oils’ makes them sound healthy, yet because they require extensive processing they have only been a part of the human diet for a few decades.

“These results provide the first experimental support for the view that dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may exert an adverse influence on the prognosis of breast cancer patients.”
‘Effect of Different Levels of Linoleic Acid on Human Breast Cancer Growth and Lung Metastasis.’

Interestingly, only the total amount of linoleic acid in the diet was important; whether the animals were given 3% or 23% of calories from fat, if 3% or more came from linoleic acid, the diet promoted breast cancer.

Human Studies

Human studies are harder to `control` for and the effects of these oils are not as clear, but there IS some evidence that they are a worse choice than `traditionally eaten` fats. Studies that show high fat diets contributing to breast cancer often look at the AMOUNT of fat and not the TYPE. Those that DID control for the type of fat did not distinguish between healthy polyunsaturated fats and linoleic acid polyunsaturated fat. Another problem in these studies is their failure to take into consideration the amount of processed foods eaten. Because processed foods almost always contain small amounts of these oils, it`s impossible to rule out the effect that a small amount of processed food with linoleic acid containing oil might have.

But there are a few studies that showed negative effects from these oils. One that followed a group of men over an 8 year period showed that vegetable oils contributed to a higher rate of cancer, while another linked rising rates of breast cancer to the rising use of vegetable oils. In addition, observational studies of cultures that consume high fat diets show that they have low breast cancer rates when those fats come from natural oils like fish, olive or coconut oil.

“… an increase in the consumption of n-6 fatty acid rich vegetable oil and a concomitant reduction in the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids suggested that this change in dietary fatty acid intake may be related to the rising breast cancer risk in Japan.”
`Dietary Fatty Acids and Cancer`

Therefore government recommendations to eat oils containing linoleic acid in place of traditional fats could be devastating, yet this is exactly the advice that has coincided with a HIGHER rate of obesity and breast cancer in the US. While countries, such as France, who have essentially rejected this advice in favor of high fat diets containing almost no vegetable oils have maintained low levels of breast cancer and obesity. While there isn`t overwhelming proof that these oils are a risk factor for cancer, there is a growing argument that they are unsafe; conversely, there is certainly no evidence that they ARE safe in any amount. Because these foods DO promote cancer in animals, the burden for proving safety should be on the manufacturers. Until then, it would be prudent to avoid these highly processed `modern` oils entirely.