While it is folly to assume eating a few food items will effectively prevent a person from ever getting breast cancer, there is more and more evidence that diet choice can make a real difference. It is one of the risk factors that a person can control, in contrast to other factors such as age, family history, and genetics. Some researchers are now concluding that from 30 to 40 percent of all cancers may be a result of poor dietary choices.
Overall, the following foods are showing promise in preventing the development or progression of breast cancer:
- Assorted colorful fruits and vegetables
- Foods rich in fiber
- Low-fat milk and dairy products
- Soybean-based products
- Foods rich in vitamin D
- Spices with anti-inflammatory properties
Fruits and vegetables
A study conducted with more than 90,000 women found that a diet consisting of main plants could cut the risk of a woman developing breast cancer by 15 percent. The study, conducted by the Ida & Joseph Friend Cancer Resource Center, recommended between eight and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Various studies have pointed to the following fruits and vegetables as being helpful in breast cancer prevention: leafy vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, citrus fruit, carrots, broccoli, kale, onions, apples, pears, peaches, and strawberries.
Studies proving a direct link between dietary fiber intake and prevention are inconclusive, but other studies point to its benefit to protect against disease in general. This is likely because fiber aids the digestive system in the elimination of waste, removing toxins before they can cause damage to the body.
You’ve probably been told to avoid fat, but not all fat is bad. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are now known as “good fats.” These are found in olive oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids have shown a link to a reduced risk of breast cancer. These acids are found in cold-water fish such as salmon and herring.
Overall, the recommendation for fat is this: 20 to 30 percent of daily calories should be from fat, but no more than 8 percent of those total calories from saturated fat.
A quarter-century of food research has shown soy to be a great food source. It has lots of protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals, and is low in carbohydrates. It is shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer and because it reduces low-density lipoproteins, the risk of heart disease.
You can find soy in tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk, and soy nuts.
Why are these foods beneficial?
There are various causal links for the above foods helping to prevent the development of breast cancer.
- For instance, omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation in the body, which is a contributing factor to breast cancer.
- Fiber helps the body eliminate estrogen. The link here is obvious, as many breast cancer treatments are designed to keep estrogen from interacting with breast cancer cells.
- Beta-carotene, found in lots of vegetables like carrots, has been associated with a lower risk for breast cancer. The thought is that it interferes with the growth process of cancer cells.
Beyond the above food specifics, research from the Ida & Joseph Cancer Resource Center has advocated these items to help protect the body against breast cancer:
- Vitamin D. Found in exposure to sunlight, vitamin D is also found in eggs, dairy products, cold-water fish, and most supplements.
- Green tea. Green tea has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce cancer risk.
- Turmeric. This yellow spice has anti-inflammatory properties and may limit the growth of breast cancer cells.
Beyond the foods you eat, it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight. This is especially true for those fighting breast cancer; obesity is a known risk factor.