Eat to Beat Breast Cancer

Eat to Beat Breast Cancer

What you eat is so important for your health. The right food gives you energy, keeps you at a healthy weight, helps your skin stay radiant and youthful looking, helps you sleep better, and can help prevent disease.

When it comes to disease, there are plenty of studies—discussed below—that show that eating the right foods can help prevent diseases like cancer.

This month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to focus on the foods that can help prevent breast cancer. These are the foods you should be incorporating into your diet whenever possible.

1) Eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This diet is chockfull of organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (like olive oil and avocados), whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and lean protein like omega-3-rich fish. One study found that this style of eating is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity (a risk factor for breast cancer). [1]

Other research, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that post-menopausal women who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

What isn't part of this diet: fast food like French fries and processed foods like cookies and pastries, which are high in unhealthy trans fatty acids. One study found that women who had the highest levels of trans fats in their blood were twice as likely as women with the lowest blood levels to develop breast cancer.

2) Focus on lean protein other than red meat. One food that's very limited in the Mediterranean diet is red meat—for good reason. Consumption of read meat has been linked to a variety of health problems, including breast cancer. Research done in countries with low red meat consumption found there to be a lower incidence of breast cancer. Another study from Harvard University found that weekly red meat consumption of about 18 ounces or more (one serving is about 3 ounces, though many people in America can easily eat an 8-ounce steak) raises breast cancer risk.

But omega-3-rich fish, on the other hand, is a healthy source of protein. In one 2013 review of 21 studies, Chinese researchers found that women with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood had a 14 percent lower risk of breast cancer. In fact, just a miniscule increase in omega-3-rich seafood every day (about .004 ounces) was associated with a 5 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

3) Make curcumin part of your diet. Curcumin is the most active part of the spice, turmeric, which is responsible for the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard. It's packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been shown to have numerous benefits including preventing cancer. Researchers found that curcumin seems to be able to suppress the proliferation of tumor cells.

4) Have some sauerkraut. This fermented cabbage is chockfull of a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane. In studies of Polish women, researchers found that those who eat lots of sauerkraut have lower rates of breast cancer than those who don't eat it (or eat much less of it). [2]

5) Add extra virgin olive oil to salads, pastas, and more. One study found that adding as little as 10 teaspoons of olive oil to your daily diet could help protect women against breast cancer. The researchers believe that olive oil mounts a multi-pronged attack on cancer tumors, stunting their growth, and even protecting against potentially cancerous damage to DNA. Some research suggests that a powerful ingredient in olive oil, oleic acid, may help reduce breast cancer risk.

As you can see, the right food really is the foundation for a healthy body—and can help keep you disease free for years to come.

Eat well & you will be well,

May 13, 2016 7:25:01 PM



[1] "Adherence to the Traditional Mediterranean Diet Is Inversely Associated with Body Mass Index and Obesity in a Spanish Population," H. Schroeder, J. Marrugat, J. Vila, et al., The Journal of Nutrition, 2004, 134: 3355-61.

[2] "AACR: A Diet High In Cabbage May Help Prevent Breast Cancer," Jeff Minerd, MedPage Today, October 31, 2005;; "Sauerkraut, Uncooked, May Prevent Cancer," Well Being Journal;; "Modulation of CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1 Expression by Cabbage Juices and Indoles in Human Breast Cell Lines," H. Szaefer, B. Licznerska, V. Krajka-Kuzniak, et al., Nutrition and Cancer, August 2012, 64(6), 879-88;