Breast Cancer-The Diet-Cancer Connection
Can you really lower your chances of getting breast cancer by eating smarter each day? The answer is YES!
Current research is now showing that there is a direct relationship between diet and cancer. It is currently thought that up to 70% of all cancers are preventable through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.
Below are some tips that may be helpful in reducing your chances off getting breast cancer.
- Reduce the intake of total dietary fat from the current average of 375 to a level of no more than 30% of total calories. In particular, reduce the intake of saturated fat. Dietary fat favors fat accumulation in breast tissue and alters the female hormones, such as estrogen and prolactin, so they promote cancer formation. In addition, dietary fat might suppress the immune system so that the body fails to reject the abnormal cells. Another set of hormone-like compounds, called prostaglandins, might stimulate the growth of cancer, and are also regulated by dietary intake. Reduce fat intake by using less spreads on breads and pastries, eat no more than 6 ounces of meat per day, use 1/3 less of the fat recommended in recipes, avoid frying foods, steam vegetables and season with spices and herbs rather than margarine or butter, avoid high fat snacks, use skim milk, and learn how to read labels.
- Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Women who consume several servings daily of fresh fruits and vegetables have as much as a tenfold reduction in breast cancer risk as compared to women who avoid these foods. It is unclear why fruits and vegetables are protective; however, the high fiber and vitamin content is likely to at least contribute to the reduced risk. As fat intake decreases and fiber intake increases, the risk of breast cancer drops. As Vitamin C intake increases, the risk of breast cancer decreases. Both Vitamin A and beta carotene help protect against breast cancer by stimulating the immune system. Whole grains provide fiber which can be helpful in lowering estrogen levels (estrogen is involved in the development and progression of breast cancer).
- Maintain ideal body weight. Women who are overweight or obese appear to have a greater chance of developing cancers of the breast and uterus than women who are not over-weight. Those women that have an apple shaped body (extra weight found in their chest and abdomen) benefited most, even with a just a 10% reduction in weight. Maintaining desirable body weight is a matter of balancing caloric intake with physical activity. Try to eat low-calorie, nutrient rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, increase intake of whole grains and legumes, and discourage high calorie items such as high-fat foods and alcohol. Try to include physical activity in your daily routine.
- Ensure adequate calcium intake. Low dietary intake of calcium and Vitamin D, coupled with a high intake of phosphorous might increase a women’s susceptibility to some forms of breast cancer. Good sources of calcium are low-fat and non-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, and new products that have been fortified with calcium, such as citrus juices, and breakfast cereals.