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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 00:38 GMT
Eggs 'protect against breast cancer'
Vitamins in eggs may protect against the disease
Eating eggs may protect women from breast cancer, according to doctors.

Researchers in the United States have found evidence to suggest teenage girls who regularly eat eggs are less likely to develop the disease later in life.

Their study indicates that other types of food, such as those containing vegetable fat and fibre, may also have a protective effect.

The research adds to growing evidence that diet may play a key role in triggering breast cancer.

Diet theory

Figures from the US show low rates of the disease in many immigrant groups. However, studies have found that within a generation their risk of developing breast cancer has normally risen to that of the general population.

We would continue to advise all women to maintain a healthy and balanced diet
Spokeswoman, Breakthrough Breast Cancer
This pattern prompted Lindsay Frazier and colleagues at Harvard Medical School to examine the effects of diet.

They asked 121,707 women about their eating habits when they were teenagers.

The women were asked how many servings of foods such as milk, fruit, vegetables, meats and sweets they had eaten everyday. These account from most people's main sources of fat, vitamins and essential nutrients.

They found that women who ate more eggs, vegetable fat and dietary fibre between the ages of 12 and 18 were less likely to develop breast cancer.

In addition, they discovered that girls who ate high levels of butter were more likely to develop the disease.

Writing in the journal Breast Cancer Research, they said: "Increased consumption of eggs was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer, whereas increased consumption of butter was associated with a slight increase in risk.

"In addition, increased intake of vegetable oils and dietary fibre seemed to be inversely related to risk of breast cancer."

They suggested high levels of amino acids, vitamins and minerals in eggs may protect these women.

The researchers stressed that their findings were preliminary and more studies are needed.

They said: "Future studies of the relation between adolescent diet and risk of breast cancer are warranted and should include a more complete assessment of diet."

The UK charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the study was interesting and agreed that more research is needed.

A spokeswoman said: "The relationship between diet and breast cancer is an interesting one but we would be hesitant to draw any conclusions from this particular study as more research is needed.

"We would continue to advise all women to maintain a healthy and balanced diet."

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