Does Diet Make A Difference When It Comes To Breast Cancer?

By admin
November 10, 2011

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, what better time to answer the important question, does diet make a difference when it comes to breast cancer?

According to registered dieticians Sally Scroggs and Clare McKinley at the University of Texas, the answer is a definitive yes. By maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating right, the risk of breast cancer can be cut by up to 38%. The truth is genetics only account for less than 10% of all breast cancer cases.

The American Institute for Cancer Research offers some guidelines for maintaining a  healthy lifestyle in the fight against breast cancer. Limiting alcohol to one drink a day is recommended, and a plant-based diet loaded with at least two cups a day of produce is strongly encouraged.

"No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But scientists believe that the combination of foods in a predominantly plant-based diet may. There is evidence that the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods could interact in ways that boost their individual anti-cancer effects," AICR explains.

Some of their top preventative picks in the fight against cancer include but are not limited to beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, chard, and mustard greens, flaxseed, garlic, grape juice, green tea, soy, tomatoes, and whole grains.

In terms of soy consumption, the consensus is that up to three servings a day is safe, as long as the soy comes from whole foods like soy milk, edamame, and tofu, while supplements such as smoothies, bars, and soy-fortified cereals should be limited.

When it comes to the prevention of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women, maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle is key. Adult weight gain of 22-44 pounds is linked to a 50% greater risk of cancer and a weight gain in excess of 45 pounds increases this risk to 87%.

It is important to remember that in women, excess belly fat tends to be particularly harmful because of its association with elevated insulin levels. If you're one of the millions of women who tend to be more "apple shaped" and carry extra weight in your belly, as opposed to your hips and thighs ("pear shaped"), it is particularly important to lose weight, exercise regularly, and limit refined grains and excess sugar in your diet.

Always remember when it comes to combating breast cancer, the emphasis should be on whole foods that are rich in anti-oxidants in order to maintain health, optimize energy levels, and give you the best possible chance to live a long, fulfilled, cancer-free life.

For helpful tips and some delicious breast cancer fighting recipes to get you started, please visit the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center website.

[image via AICR]

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