October signifies the beginning of fall, pumpkin spiced everything, and the color pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
This movement focuses on raising awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer for treatment and survival. Although we are at the tail end of the month, it is important to be informed about this cause. One in eight women born today in the United States will be affected by breast cancer, the second most common kind of cancer in women. The good news is that when found early in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.
Although not a cure or cause, diet is thought to play a role in 30-40% of all cancers. Studies released by the University of California, San Diego and the Genesis Prevention Center at the University Hospital in South Manchester, England suggest that a healthy diet helps prevent cancer. This research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lower amounts of starchy carbohydrates aids in breast cancer prevention, helps patients during and after treatment, and lowers the risk of recurrence. More research about how nutrition can help lower the risk of cancer is essential but we do know that physical activity, healthy weight, and a healthy diet is very important for prevention.
Foods to Consider
There are many foods that can be incorporated into your daily diet to boost your health and lower your risk of disease:
Broccoli, Cruciferous Vegetables, + Carotenoids
Broccoli is the most widely known breast cancer prevention food. Research shows that it blocks tumor growth and prevents the spread of cancer. Other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kale have a similar effect.
Carotenoids found in orange foods like cantaloupe and butternut squash seem to help lower the risk for breast cancer in women. Yellow, red, and dark green vegetables also host 600 different types of carotenoids and should be consumed as well.
Research suggests that pomegranates contain a compound that fights cancer cell growth, especially in estrogen-dependent cancers. The juice and fruit also shows promise in aiding heart disease and other cancers.
Other Prevention Fruits: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, and peaches.
Nuts & Seeds
Walnuts contain nutrients and Omega-3 Fatty Acids that may slow tumor growth and help to fight inflammation.
Try this: Walnuts make a great (and cheaper!) alternative to pine nuts for basil pesto.
Lignans in milled flaxseeds may decrease cancer growth making these powerful seeds another great food to incorporate into a daily prevention diet.
Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and oils may destroy breast cancer cells and help the disease from spreading. Fish also plays a role in cancer prevention. Consider adding salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sea bass to your diet. Vitamin D found in salmon is associated with a 24% reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer.
Herbs & Spices
Turmeric is similar to ginger but has a yellow color – this spice contains curcumin which may have the ability to fight breast cancer tumors when used with certain drug therapies. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory effects that are beneficial for your overall health. Curry is the most widely known dish that contains turmeric.
Tip: Turmeric should be combined with black pepper in meals – this combination increases the bioavailability of turmeric’s benefits.
Apigemin found in parsley (and celery) inhibits cancer cell growth and has been shown to boost resistance in lab experiments.
Garlic has been found to impact the process by which a normal, healthy cell may become cancerous. The component in garlic that helps prevention, allyl sulfide, is found throughout the onion family.
Fiber rich foods like apples, beans, lentils, barley, artichokes, and dates help to lower breast cancer risk. Research shows that for every 10 grams of fiber added daily, breast cancer risk decreased by 7%. That’s only a cup of beans a day! Apple peels have also been found to fight the spread of cancer cells.
All of these foods are wonderful additions to a healthy diet and will help reduce the risk of many other diseases. We should all strive to incorporate these cancer fighting foods into our diet to help maintain our health and vitality. For all types of disease and especially breast cancer, early detection is key. Share with your friends and loved ones and talk to your doctor about your potential risk factors. We wish good health to all of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers!
For more information and resources, please visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.