Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer that effects women in America. Approximately one in every eight (12%) women living in the United States will develop an invasive form of breast cancer in their lifetime. Many people turn to both conventional and alternative treatments to breast cancer because of this.
However, many people develop breast cancer long before they are aware of it, and your chances of successfully beating it, lower the longer it goes untreated. Therefore it is incredibly important to do all you can to prevent your risk of developing breast cancer, which is why we are going to show you the foods you need to eat to do this.
According to Suzanne Dixon, RD, an epidemiologist and dietitian, eating a wide variety of plant-based foods is necessary for breast cancer prevention and overall breast health. Here are some of those foods:
Legumes, including beans and lentils, get their anti-cancer benefits come from the natural compounds found in them called phytosterols. One study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that women who ate some form of legumes at least twice a week had a 24% lower chance of developing breast cancer compared to women who only ate them less than once a month.
Breast cancer thrives on estrogen. When it doesn’t have a sufficient supply of naturally occurring estrogen, it uses an enzyme called aromatase to create synthetic estrogen. Mushrooms are effective at preventing this estrogen synthesis due to the fact that they decrease aromatase activity.
In a 2009 study conducted in China, researchers found that women who ate 10 or more grams of fresh mushroom (approximately one average sized mushroom) had reduced their breast cancer risk by 64%. Woodear, crimini, oyster, Italian brown, enoki, button, stuffing, shiitake, chanterelle, and Portobello mushrooms all have reported anti-breast cancer properties.
“All varieties are rich in phytosterols, which have been shown in lab and animal studies to inhibit tumor development,” Dixon says.
One study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that walnuts contain bioactive molecules that provide them with anti-cancer properties. Researchers also found that applying a serum derived from walnuts decreased breast cancer cell growth when directly applied in a petri dish.
Those eating more peanut butter, nuts, beans, lentils, soybeans, or corn were found to have just a fraction of the risk for fibrocystic breast disease, which places one at higher risk of cancer. The protective effects were found to be strongest for those most at risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer.
Nuts are described as “nutritionally precious,” which may explain some of the mechanisms by which nut components induce cancer cell death and inhibit cancer growth and spread in vitro. But which nuts work the best?
These include most crunchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. These vegetable’s anti-cancer properties come from one of their many natural components called glucosinolate. During the digestion process, glucosinolates are broken down into active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. These compounds have been shown to have anti-cancer properties in many different types of cancer, not just breast.
Several case-control studies have also found that women who eat cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Factors That Increase Breast Cancer Risk
Aside from eating foods that you know will reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, it is also a good idea to avoid the many circumstances that increase your risk of developing it. Here are some of the most concerning factors associated with an increased risk of breast cancer:
- Being overweight
- Not exercising
- High saturated fat intake
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Lack of sleep
- Use of cosmetics and other products containing parabens
- Genetic disposition
Although there are some factors that will increase your risk of breast cancer that you cannot change, living a healthy, active lifestyle and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and legumes is the best way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.