Anorexia Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

The Physicians Committee

Anorexia Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

March 10, 2004

Tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association reports that women hospitalized for anorexia nervosa early in life are 53 percent  less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to other women. The findings were made in 7,303 Swedish women developing anorexia prior to age 40 years, using data from national registries. The authors note that a likely explanation is that a low calorie intake reduces blood concentrations of estrogens and insulin-like growth factor I, both of which are associated with breast cancer risk. The public health message is likely to be to choose diets that are low in energy-dense foods and rich in fiber, so as to avoid excess energy intake, while maintaining complete nutrition.

Michels KB, Ekbom A. Caloric restriction and incidence of breast cancer. JAMA. 2004;291:1226-1230.

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