Those women who consumed higher amounts of whole grain and vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women exposed to dietary cadmium through other foods.
"It's possible that this healthy diet to some extent can counteract the negative effect of cadmium, but our findings need to be confirmed with further studies," study author Agneta Akesson, an associate professor at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research. "It is, however, important that the exposure to cadmium from all food is low."
The findings are published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research.
Johanna Lampe, a member of the public health sciences division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the new study adds to a growing body of research linking cadmium exposure to breast cancer risk. "It adds another grain of sand to the pile," she said. "We would benefit from more research in this area to understand these risks better."
The ideal study would use a more objective measure of cadmium exposure, such as cadmium levels in urine. "We could look at women years before they develop breast cancer and measure cadmium exposure at certain points in time," she explained.
In terms of lowering exposure to cadmium, Lampe said that smoking is the most important single source of cadmium exposure. "Not smoking is a good place to start," she noted.
Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that it is too early to recommend making any dietary changes based on these findings. "We can't say we should limit intake of fiber and other things that contain cadmium yet," and some of the foods that contain cadmium are part of a healthy diet, Bernik stress
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