How to eat to prevent breast cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, while the exact causes of breast cancer is not known, there are certain risk factors that are linked to the disease — diet being one of them.
Second only to tobacco use, poor nutrition is a major risk factor for developing cancer.
So much so that the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures of 2009 stated, «Approximately one-third of the more than 500,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. this year (2009) can be attributed to poor diet and (physical) inactivity.»
Logically, a good diet that will help boost and maintain your body’s immune system may very well be your first line of defense.
True, no one known food can cure cancer. However, eating certain types of foods and cutting back on others is just one of the preventive measures one can take in combating or preventing breast cancer all together.
Here are some things to eat and some things to cut back on to prevent breast cancer.
What to avoid
The American Cancer Society recommends cutting back on:
- High-fat and saturated fat diets — according to studies, while fat is not considered a cause of breast cancer, it has been deemed a promoter of said disease. Therefore, limit your intake of diet high in saturated fats. This can be easily achieved by «switching from whole milk to skim, reducing butter intake, eating leaner meats, and removing skin from chicken.» — Prevention magazine.
- Alcohol — «Use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1� times the risk of women who drink no alcohol.» — American Cancer Society. Therefore, it has been recommended to drink no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. Tip: replace alcohol with a daily intake of green tea, which has proved to help reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.
- Processed and red meats — According to the Website Breast Cancer.org, the reasoning behind the link of processed and red meats to breast cancer entailed the possibilities that «saturated fat….may promote the growth of tumor cells. Another explanation may be certain compounds produced when meat is grilled — hetero-cyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — that have been shown to promote tumors in animals, and possibly in humans.» It has been suggested that the intake of red and processed meat should be limited to less than 3 ounces per day.
What to eat
Knowing what to avoid and cut back on is only half the battle. What one should eat is just as important.
Here is a listing of the suggested food items to prevent breast cancer (five or more servings of the suggested fruits and vegetable listed below):
- Vegetables rich in Vitamin A— Vitamin A is said to inhibit the formation of cancer-causing mutations. Therefore, include vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squashes, and dark leafy greens (collard and mustard greens as well as spinach) are a great addition to a breast cancer prevention diet.
- Broccoli and its counterparts— Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and green onions should be included in your diet as well. These veggies have been found to contain chemicals that induce protective enzymes and act as anti-oxidants.
- Foods rich in iron and Vitamin C — foods rich in iron such as lean meats, shellfish, leafy green vegetables, as well as fruits and vegetable high in Vitamin C are said to be a great addition to breast cancer prevention.
- Whole Grains — about 3 servings of whole grains — not processed or refined grains — is a great goal to shoot for when choosing a breast cancer prevention diet.
To eat soy or not
While the jury is still out on soy and unfermented soy products, these items contain genistein — an isoflavone that has proved to suppress tumor growth in laboratory exterminations — its effectiveness in humans seems to be limited, if at all established.
While some physicians advise against soy for women who have a predisposition or family history of breast cancer, some feel that a little soy in ones diet is safe since soy is a good source of protein.