Breast cancer is a significant global health issue that affects millions of women. While hormonal factors and genetics are known to play a vital role in breast cancer risk, ongoing research suggests that our dietary choices can also influence the likelihood of developing this disease. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been shown to be protective against breast cancer. These foods contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help the body fight cancer-promoting agents.
Specific foods like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy, which belong to the cabbage family, contain compounds known as sulforaphanes that have powerful cancer-fighting properties. Berries of all kinds are also rich in antioxidants, which combat oxidative stress that can lead to cancer development. Green tea is another antioxidant powerhouse, while omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood have anti-inflammatory properties that further reduce breast cancer risk.
On the other hand, diets high in processed foods, added sugars, and saturated fats have been found to increase the risk of breast cancer. These foods lack essential nutrients and are high in calories, which can contribute to obesity, a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Even a modest weight loss of five to 10 pounds has been shown to significantly reduce risk.
Regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer for several reasons. It promotes weight loss by burning calories and decreases estrogen and insulin levels, which are linked to higher risk. The U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
Alcohol consumption has consistently been linked to increased breast cancer risk. Women who have two or more drinks per day have a 30% higher risk compared to those who consume one drink or less.
There are several persistent myths surrounding the causes of breast cancer. Claims that wearing an underwire bra, using antiperspirants or deodorants, or having breast implants can increase risk have no scientific evidence to support them. Similarly, soy consumption has been falsely associated with an increased risk of estrogen-positive breast cancer. However, research has consistently shown that consuming soy does not increase women’s risk of developing breast cancer.
It’s important to remember that research in this field is continually evolving. Consulting with healthcare professionals, such as registered dietitians, can provide individualized guidance on reducing breast cancer risk through informed dietary choices. By making informed decisions about our diet and lifestyle, we can take steps towards preventing breast cancer and promoting overall better health.
*Source: Susie Bond, Registered and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist.