Discussion: Consuming Vegetable Protein and Fats and Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer in Young Girls
I have been thinking of writing at least one more post a week, preferably one that comments on other blog articles or news related issues. I thought this might serve to foster some discussion and banter, which I truly enjoy.
I stumbled upon this topic on the Huffington Post (the article is entitled: Eating Peanut Butter Could Prevent Future Breast Disease) but it has been picked up by The Daily Mail as well as CBS. The research comes from a recent study just released in the the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment entitled “Vegetable protein and vegetable fat intakes in pre-adolescent and adolescent girls, and risk for benign breast disease in young women“. Being the type of person who loves research I tried to get a hold of the original article but it is so new that SUNY Albany does not have it online yet. So I will talk about it a bit blindly…
The basics of the study:
- set out to find whether “vegetable protein and fat, derived from diets reported during pre-adolescence and adolescence, are associated with subsequent risk for [benign breast disease] in young women.”
- The girls being investigated were ages 9-15 (so pre-highschool)
- “the greatest sources of vegetable fat and protein in these girls were peanut butter, peanuts, nuts, beans (beans, lentils, and soybeans), and corn.”
- The CBS article pointed out (I assume they read the full study) that “There was also some evidence that beans, lentils, soybeans and corn may help prevent the non-cancerous illness, but girls did not eat these items in large quantities, so there wasn’t strong evidence to support the claim.” [more on this in a second]
It is important to remember that the study is not claiming that increased consumption of vegetable protein and fat (eating more peanut butter) in young girls prevents breast cancer— eating more peanut butter as a kid will not prevent cancer as an adult. Rather, the study is simply showing an association between increased vegetable protein and fat and a reduced risk for breast cancer.
There are a few points I find significant:
- Of course the media latches onto the peanut butter thing. But peanut butter doesn’t seem to be the significant factor; rather, it simply appears to be a contingent fact for the purposes of the study. It just so happens that peanut butter has high levels of vegetable protein and fat. And, it just so happens that that is the kids who were used in the study were eating. (It doesn’t hut that basically every kid loves peanut butter.)
- Also, as the CBS article points out, the girls in the study simply were not eating large quantities of beans, lentils, soybeans and corn. But the study concludes that “A daily serving of any one of these was associated with lower risk” of breast cancer. Now, I assume that there is no way to know whether the kids were vegetarians/vegans; they probably weren’t. But it would be very interesting to do a study of kids who were, because one would assume that their diets would include a higher percentage of beans, lentils, soybeans and corn. Then we could see whether the source of the vegetable protein and fat is a factor; e.g., does an increase in beans, lentils, and soybeans have a greater inverse effect on the risk of breast cancer? [Wait, kids didn’t eat a lot of corn? Really? I assume they mean not a lot of unprocessed corn, cause that shit is in everything that we eat.]
- It seems that it is the vegetable protein and fat…the vegetable protein and fat that is the significant factor. Doesn’t this just scream that more research is need on the significance of non-animal proteins and fats? What is it about increased vegetable protein that contributes to an inverse relation with cancer risk?
So what do you think? I know that most people will not have read the full study, but what are your initial reactions? Should we ensure that young girls get higher levels of vegetable protein and fats? What about peanut allergies, which seem to be at higher and higher levels—should we look to increase access to beans, lentils, and soybeans as opposed to peanut butter?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the study; or about your love or hatred of peanut butter.