Breast Cancer and Food

October 30th, 2012  |  The Blog

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As we raise awareness of this devastating disease, it is important to start with the basics beyond the standard medical evaluation and early detection methods. One important component is to learn how foods can influence the course of the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer, except for skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of death for women. There are close to 185,000 new invasive breast cancer diagnoses delivered every year in the U.S, according to the American Cancer Society.

Weight

A woman is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer if they have a significant weight gain after the age of 18 or after menopause. Make note that, conversely, losing weight might decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Weight management to control obesity also helps to lower estrogen levels. A lower estrogen level reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Food Intake

Food consumption makes us who we are, literally. There is a great deal of discussion about food’s impact on the risk of developing breast cancer.

Let us start with a glass of red wine. One glass is thought to lower the risk of heart attack but it can also increase the risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you imbibe in more than one drink a day.

Foods high in fat content have been associated with breast cancer, regardless of the fat composition. Keep your diet low fat.

So, what’s for dinner to help protect a woman against breast cancer?

The primary recommendation is that brightly colored fruits and vegetables should load your dinner plate.

These are a few of the key food items recommended to lower the risk of developing breast cancer:

  • Bean-based meals, rich in lentils, are recommended six times a week. If that seems like a bit much, just remember that women who eat a bean-rich meal just two or more times a week have a 34 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who consume them less than once a month.
  • Fresh blueberries, 1/2 to 1 cup per day, are the best defense against stem cells linked to the development of breast cancer. All berries have a positive dietary impact but blueberries offer the best protection.
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, escarole, broccoli and arugula deliver high levels of carotenoids. Carotenoids help to protect against breast cancer but are especially crucial in reducing the risk of disease recurrence after five years.
  • Lycopene, found in cooked tomato products like tomato sauce, juice, paste and canned tomatoes of all kinds, lowers a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by 36 percent versus a woman who does not eat tomato products.

It is time to look at what is on your dinner plate. Make smart choices that can surely influence your risk of developing breast cancer. While there is no foolproof protection, everything we can do to change the course of our own personal risk and that of our patients is critical to the outcome.

Bon appetit!

 

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