Can Diet Decrease Your Risk of Breast Cancer? It Just Might!

By Jeannine Re McNamarra RND & Farah Khan RDN

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s likely you have already heard all the statistics related to this disease, such as 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, or that breast cancer can occur in men as well.

What if we told you that some simple lifestyle changes could reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, even in those at high risk?

Below are simple guidelines:
• Limit Alcohol to less than one drink a day.
• Avoid smoking, even second-hand smoke.
• Include exercise, such as walking, in your daily routine.

Follow a diet that includes the following foods
• High fiber foods: whole grains, legumes and beans
• A variety of brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables. These contain phytonutrients – powerful nutrients found in plant foods, that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, protective properties.

So, increase your intake of:
• Orange or dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard
• Red, blue and purple fruits & vegetables, such as berries, grapes, beets
• Red fruit & vegetables such as tomatoes, cherries & red peppers
• Orange fruit & vegetables, such as peaches, nectarines, carrots, pumpkin & squash.

Include cruciferous vegetables in your diet. These have sulfur-containing compounds which can provide protective benefits against some types of cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include:
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Cabbage
• Kale
• Brussels Sprouts

Eat more plant-based proteins and limit fatty meats such as red meat.

Choose lower-fat dairy such as 1% milk, and low-fat cheeses

Include soybean-based foods to replace some animal protein. Examples are:
• Tofu
• Tempeh
• Edamame
• Soy milk

Avoid excess intake of foods high in sugar such as sodas, syrups, candies, glazes, cakes and cookies

Choose foods high in vitamin D
• Eggs
• Coldwater fish like salmon
• Foods that are fortified with Vitamin D

Drink Tea, especially green tea, which has cancer-fighting antioxidants

Use spices and herbs that have anti-inflammatory or antioxidative properties such as:
• Turmeric
• Garlic
• Ginger
• Chili pepper

Include healthy fats in your diet in moderation:
• Olive Oil
• Omega 3s from Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel or sardines
• Olive oil
• Nuts and seeds
• Avocado

Limit intake of the “less healthy” fats:
• Whole fat, commercially produced dairy (vs. organic, grass-fed)
• Butter
• Fatty meats
• Poultry skin

A lot of information to swallow? Start out by increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while reducing your intake of processed foods, red meats and fats. Then add some of the above foods to your diet daily and you can reduce your risk of breast cancer.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound of Cure.

– Ben Franklin