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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose of this health campaign is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
In the US, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Although rare, men can get breast cancer too. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, behind skin cancers.
In the prevention of breast cancer, as with many other kinds of cancer, lifestyle habits and diet have a positive impact. This post offers foods to eat and avoid to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Although I don’t have personal experience with breast cancer, my mother in law, Leta Moore, survived breast cancer twice. I observed the impact the disease had on her. And I am grateful that she triumphed, joining the millions of other breast cancer survivors in the US. This dear woman ultimately passed away from Alzheimer’s in 1999.
Leta’s birthday is in October. So the month brings her to mind along with the brave battles she fought against breast cancer and dementia.
This post is in her honor. She would love knowing the benefits lifestyle can bring in reducing the risk for this disease.
Foods to Eat to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
The following foods and drinks can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Foods Rich in Fiber
Foods such as whole grains and legumes provide fiber. Studies suggest that fiber helps to protect against breast cancer.
Excess estrogen can be a factor in the development of breast cancer. Eating enough fiber helps eliminate estrogen, along with other toxins, from the body. Fiber binds to estrogen in the digestive tract, preventing the absorption of too much of the hormone.
Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes provide antioxidants in the form of beta carotene and vitamins C and E.
Antioxidants help prevent many diseases, including breast cancer, by reducing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable atoms that cause damage to cells and can contribute to the development of cancer. Antioxidants track down and neutralize free radicals. Brightly colored fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, berries and citrus fruits are high in antioxidants. Nuts, seeds and beans deliver disease fighting antioxidants as well.
Fruits and Vegetables
A plant based diet can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 28%. Fruits and veggies contain flavonoids and carotenoids that interfere with the growth of cancer cells and vitamins and minerals that help protect against the disease as well.
Include the following in your diet as often as possible:
- onions and garlic
- dark leafy greens such as spinach, arugula and kale
- cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
- sweet potatoes
- beans and lentils
- citrus fruits such as oranges, limes and lemons
- berries such as strawberries and blueberries
Obesity contributes to the development of cancers, including breast cancer. However consuming healthy fats in moderation is beneficial.
The polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocados lower the risk for breast cancer. These omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body, which is a contributing factor for breast cancer.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices contain plant compounds that help to protect against breast cancer. These compounds include antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins. Add the following herbs and spices to your daily diet:
- turmeric with curcumin
- burdock root
- chaga mushroom
- nettle leaf
Green tea contains polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. The body easily absorbs this compound that helps keep inflammation down in the body and fights free radicals. This drink, which may be served hot or cold, strengthens the immune system as well.
Foods to Avoid to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
Avoid the following foods and drinks, as they increase the risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
Studies identified a link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk for breast cancer. Alcohol can increase estrogen levels in the body and cause damage to cell DNA. Three alcoholic drinks a week increase the risk of breast cancer by 15%. The risk continues to rise by 10%, with each additional drink a day.
Trans fats are common in processed foods and studies link it with a higher risk of breast cancer. These unhealthy fats are found in fried foods, some crackers, donuts and packaged cookies, pastries and snacks.
A diet rich in added refined sugar contributes to the formation of cancerous tumors in the breasts. These tumors are more likely to metastasize as well. Sugar also increases inflammation in the body, another leading cause of cancer, and boosts enzymes connected to the growth and spread of cancer.
Also avoid sugary drinks such as sodas and energy drinks.
Studies also found a link between red meat and breast cancer. Red meats include beef, pork, veal and lamb. Plus, cooking meats at a high temperature releases toxins that contribute to cancer.
Processed foods such as lunch meats, bacon and ham are high in fat, sodium and preservatives. These substances all increase the risk of breast cancer.
Fast foods, which are often fried and high in fat and sodium, bring an increased risk for breast cancer along with heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Keeping Those Breasts Healthy
Eating healthy foods and avoiding those that contribute to disease go a long way toward lowering the risk for breast cancer. Other lifestyle factors that help include drinking plenty of water, getting enough exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not sitting for long periods of time and avoiding smoking.
Visit the National Breast Cancer Organization HERE for more information and tips to keep you…and your breasts…healthy.
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.