Nutrition in the Prevention of Breast Cancer: A Middle Eastern Perspective



Naja F, Nasreddine L, Awada S, El Sayed Ahmad R, Hwalla N.


Front Public Health. 2019 Nov 8;7:316. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00316. 2019.


This paper reviews the escalating burden of breast cancer (BC) in the Middle East (ME) and the prevalence of modifiable risk factors and underscores opportunities to promote the prevention of the disease. Similar to more developed countries, BC is the most frequent cancer among women in countries of the ME, accounting for one-third of total cancer cases and 24% of total cancer deaths. Average age at BC diagnosis appears to be a decade earlier in Middle Eastern countries compared to the Western countries, and its incidence is predicted to further increase. Although incidence rates of BC are still lower in Middle Eastern countries than Western ones, mortality rates are similar and at times even higher. It is estimated that 30% of BC cases are due to environmental and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and diet and hence can be preventable. The ME suffers from surging rates of obesity, with eight of its countries ranking among the highest worldwide in obesity prevalence among adults aged 18 and above. ME countries with the highest prevalence of obesity that are among the top 20 worldwide include United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait with rates ranging from 30% in UAE to 37% in Kuwait. In parallel, studies in the ME have consistently showed a shift in dietary intake whereby traditional diets, rich in fruits and vegetables, are progressively eroding and being replaced by westernized diets high in energy and fat. Accumulating evidence is reporting convincing association between consumption of such westernized diets and higher BC risk. Addressing these risk factors and studying their association with BC in terms of their nature and magnitude in Middle Eastern countries could provide the basis for intervention strategies to lower the risk and alleviate the burden of BC in these countries. CI – Copyright © 2019 Naja, Nasreddine, Awada, El Sayed Ahmad and Hwalla.

Keywords: .

Link/DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00316