Preschool French Fries and Breast Cancer

The more servings of French fries that women had eaten way back when they were preschoolers, the more likely they were to develop breast cancer as adults, according to a Harvard study in the August 10, 2005 online International Journal of Cancer.

We know that diet and cancer are often linked, and that changes in pre-pubertal breasts could lead to later cancer. This study was based on data spanning over forty years from the Nurses’ Health Study, which follows thousands of nurses over time. The mothers of the nurses were asked to describe their preschool. Out of 30 foods analyzed, French fries were the only food linked to higher breast cancer rates (whole milk during the preschool years was linked to a slightly lower than average rate). For every weekly serving of fries the adult risk of breast cancer rose 27 percent! Even though high fat diets have been associated with increased breast cancer risk, in this study the French fry effect is not just the fat. Other high fat foods such as hot dogs and ice cream were not associated with the increased risk.

While this one study is not enough to prove that fries cause cancer, it is consistent with cancer concerns arising from the acrylamide in fries. A survey of the American diet found that for today’s toddlers, French fries are the number one ‘vegetable’ consumed. Fries are the most common side item in kids’ meals. And they are even a top seller in school cafeterias. Breast cancer strikes more than 200,000 women in the U.S. each year.

Published on: August 23, 2005
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.