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Foods That Cause Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Foods That Cause and Fight Breast Cancer | Kristi Funk, MD

Some things can make a person more likely to get breast cancer. These things are called risk factors. Some risk factors are in your control, and some arent.

Here are some examples of risk factors you cant change:

  • Getting your first period at a younger age
  • Having a family history of breast cancer
  • Having certain types of genes that increase your risk for breast cancer

Here are some examples of risk factors you can change:

  • Being overweight or obese . This is especially true for people who have gone through menopause .
  • Not being physically active

Diet Also Supports Cancer Treatment

Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise promotes overall health, especially when you have breast cancer. While there is no sure-fire method to prevent breast cancer, incorporating foods with cancer-fighting properties into your diet can help reduce your exposure to ingredients that may increase the risk of recurrence.

This article offers tips for eating a plant-based, whole food diet for a well-rounded eating plan to help reduce your risk of breast cancer recurrence.

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Published in Advances in Nutrition, the international review journal of the American Society for Nutrition, Intake of Various Food Groups and Risk of Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies has taken a novel approach to investigating the link between diet and breast cancer. Authors Asma Kazemi et al. performed linear and nonlinear dose-response analyses in order to better understand the association between breast cancer risk and particular food groups.

In order to gather their data, the authors conducted a comprehensive search of the scientific literature. Their efforts led them to 75 relevant studies that examined the link between breast cancer risk and at least one of 13 food groups: grains and cereals, vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy, fish, poultry, red meat, processed meat, nuts, legumes, soy products, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Upon conducting their analyses, the authors identified decreased risks of breast cancer with increased intakes of fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and cheese. On the other hand, there was a positive association between red meat and processed meat consumption and the risk of breast cancer.

Reference

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Nutrition For Breast Cancer Prevention

Changing your relationship to food and eating involves a major shift in thinking, feeling and doing. The goal of this shift is to create a lifestyle change, not to temporarily lose weight on a diet.

Choosing, making and eating food with an Abundance Model includes the pleasures of delicious choices, many tastes, ample portions, not feeling limited, not counting calories and eating when hungry.

This is in contrast to the more common Deprivation Model where rules of do not and should not leave us feeling bad or guilty with unmet hunger and cravings. Cycles of stress and depression-related eating are common with this model. A shift from I cant eat without feeling bad and guilty to I enjoy an abundance of healthy, delicious food often results in a better-nourished and healthier self.

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Study Populations And Ascertainment Of Breast Cancer Cases

The Breast Cancer Diet  The Healthy Life Foundation

EPIC

The EPIC study includes 521,330 men and women aged 25 to 70years at recruitment, which occurred between 1992 and 2000 . Participants were from 23 centres in 10 European countries and completed questionnaires on diet, lifestyle, and medical history. Informed consent was provided by all participants, and ethical approval for the study was provided by the internal review board of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and from local ethics committees in each participating country.

Women without a pre-baseline diagnosis of cancer were eligible for inclusion in these analyses those who did not complete dietary or lifestyle questionnaires or with missing data on relevant confounders were excluded.

Incident breast cancers were identified through population-based cancer registries or active follow-up, and mortality data were obtained from cancer or mortality registries . Breast cancers were classified as ICD-10 code C50. Information on oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status of the tumours was provided by each centre on the basis of pathology reports this information was not available for all cases, particularly during the early years of follow-up.

NLCS

Incident breast cancer cases were identified by record linkage to the Netherlands Cancer Registry and the Dutch National Pathology Registry.

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Scientific Review Published In Advances In Nutrition Examines The Link Between Breast Cancer Risk And 13 Food Groups

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women as well as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018, for example, there were an estimated 2.1 million new breast cancer cases and an estimated 600,000 deaths due to breast cancer worldwide.

Unfortunately, our understanding of the causes of breast cancer is still limited however, researchers have identified a number of risk factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Some of these risk factors, such as a family history of cancer, cant be modified. Other risk factors, however, are modifiable.

Among the most important modifiable risk factors is diet. Several studies have been conducted to determine how individual foods and food groups as well as overall dietary patterns are associated with breast cancer risk. To date, these studies have found moderate evidence suggesting that dietary patterns higher in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and lower in animal-source foods and refined carbohydrates are associated with a decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. The evidence is not as strong concerning the link between diet and premenopausal cancer, as few studies have focused on this area.

Whats The Relationship Between Red Meat Processed Meat And Cancer

Research by the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that eating more than 18 ounces of red meat per week increases your risk of getting colorectal cancer . Beef, lamb and pork are all red meats. Eating any amount of processed meat regularly can also increase your risk of getting both stomach and colorectal cancers. Processed meats are meats that are preserved by smoking, salting, curing, or adding other preservatives. Examples of processed meats include sliced turkey and bologna deli meats, bacon, ham, and hot dogs.

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Foods That Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, the average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing breast cancer at some point in her life is 12 percent. Although many risk factors for breast cancer are out of your control, such as genetic factors , there is evidence to support that a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a nutrient-dense diet may affect your risk of cancer. In fact, experts estimate that we may be able to prevent as many as 1 out of every 20 cancer cases simply by changing what we eat. Certain compounds found in food, such as ellagic acid, phytosterols, antioxidants , and even fiber, have been found to regulate estrogen and inhibit cancer cell formation. Here, weve listed the best foods that contain cancer-fighting nutrients.

While no single food is guaranteed to keep you cancer-free, shifting your diet to include more of these foods that can help fight breast cancer wouldnt hurt. Below, weve listed some of these nutritional stars.

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Foods That May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Foods that Prevent Breast Cancer

Keep in mind that many factors are associated with breast cancer development. While improving your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your cancer risk in general, its only one piece of the puzzle.

Even with a healthy diet, you still need regular breast cancer screenings like mammograms and manual checks. After all, early detection and diagnosis significantly increase survival rates. Talk to your healthcare provider for advice about breast cancer screenings.

All the same, research suggests that these foods may lower your risk of this disease.

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How To Add Exercise To Your Daily Routine

Its important to find physical activities you enjoy. This way, youre more likely to do them regularly. Remember that any small increases in activity will help. Set small exercise or activity goals for yourself and slowly work your way up to doing more.

Exercise can be broken up into 2 or 3 sessions. For example, if you dont have 1 whole hour to exercise, try walking for 30 minutes twice per day. Try the following ideas to increase your physical activity:

The table below will help you determine how much exercise you need each week, depending on your goals.

Goal Type and Amount of Exercise
To gain important health benefits 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise , 75 minutes of vigorous exercise , or an equal combination of both
For added health benefits More than 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, 150 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or an equal combination of both

Are Coffee Or Other Drinks With Caffeine Okay To Drink

Its fine for most people to drink moderate amounts of coffee or other caffeinated drinks . Some research suggests that there are possible health benefits linked to drinking moderate amounts of coffee. Avoid or limit sweetened beverages with added caffeine and avoid alcoholic beverages with added caffeine. Also, keep in mind that drinks such as flavored lattes can have a lot of calories and sugar.

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Eating Guidelines For People Getting Chemotherapy Treatment

Food safety

If youre getting chemotherapy, youre at an increased risk for getting an infection or foodborne illness. This is because chemotherapy treatment can lower the number of white blood cells in your body. These cells fight bacteria and keep your immune system strong. Avoid foods that arent prepared, stored, or handled correctly. This can happen where you shop for food, eat out, or even at home.

To prevent foodborne illness, its important to buy foods that are safe to eat and to make and store food safely. For more information, read the resource Food Safety During Cancer Treatment.

Managing your body weight

During chemotherapy, some people gain weight, and other people lose weight. Its best to try to stay at a healthy body weight and not gain or lose too much weight during treatment. For more information, see the section Staying a Healthy Body Weight.

If youre losing too much weight because of your chemotherapy treatment, you may want to change your diet. You may not be very hungry due to side effects of treatment such as fatigue, anxiety, and depression. If you lose your appetite , follow the suggestions below:

Read the resource Eating Well During Your Cancer Treatment for more information about staying a healthy weight during your cancer treatment.

Staying hydrated

Its important to stay well-hydrated during chemotherapy. Drink at least 8 glasses of water or other no-calorie or low-calorie drinks each day.

Not drinking enough liquids can cause:

Nausea

Can Tomatoes Prevent Cancer

Foods to avoid in Breast Cancer

No, eating tomatoes doesnt prevent cancer.

Some studies have looked at whether eating tomatoes might help prevent prostate cancer. These studies focused on a chemical in tomatoes called lycopene. But there is no good evidence that lycopene reduces overall cancer risk or the risk of prostate cancer.

Even so, tomatoes, like other fruits and vegetables, can still be part of ahealthy balanced diet, which can help to reduce the risk of cancer overall.

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Breast Cancer Food Guide

There is no specific diet that is recommended for people with breast cancer. Your nutrient needs may vary depending on many factors that include other medical diagnoses, your body weight, nutrient deficiencies, medications, and any symptoms that youre currently experiencing.

Your healthcare team, including a registered dietitian who specializes in oncology nutrition, can help you come up with an appropriate eating plan specific to your needs and overall health. The following foods are based on general recommendations to maintain overall health while living with breast cancer:

  • whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein sources like chicken and turkey, fatty fish like trout or salmon, and plant-based proteins sources like lentils and nuts
  • foods high in healthy fats and protein. If you need to maintain or gain weight, incorporate sources of healthy fat like nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil as well as protein sources like eggs, chicken, lentils, and fish. Protein-rich foods are especially important for maintaining muscle mass.
  • blended liquids such as milkshakes, smoothies, juices, or soups for those times when you dont feel like eating solid foods
  • high fiber foods like whole grains, flax seeds, legumes, vegetables and fruits to treat constipation

Bad Diet In Teen Years Could Raise Later Breast Cancer Risk

Heres a good reason to check what your kids are eating: women who remember having eaten poorly as teenagers were more likely to develop early breast cancer, researchers reported Wednesday.

They found women who ate the most inflammatory diet heavy in red meat, sodas, sweet foods and white flour were up to a third more likely to develop breast cancer in their 20s, 30s or 40s compared to women who thrived on salads and whole grains.

It doesnt mean that breast cancer is a womans fault, but it does show that what you eat early in life could have repercussions decades later, said Dr. Karin Michels of the University of California Los Angeles, who helped lead the study.

It is actually quite serious, Michels, who did the work while at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Womens Hospital, told NBC News.

We should advise our girls and teenagers to eat healthy because breast cancer does seem to have a much earlier origin than we have appreciated in the past. Cancer in general takes years, potentially even decades, to develop.

Breast cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of U.S. women, after lung cancer. Every year, its diagnosed in 200,000 women and a few men, and kills around 40,000.

For the report, Michels and colleagues turned to the Nurses Health Study, a giant, ongoing look at the health of tens of thousands of women working in medicine.

Cancer in general takes years, potentially even decades, to develop.

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Tips For Eating A Healthy Diet

Changing how you eat can be difficult at first. But taking a holistic approach of eating unprocessed, nutritious foods is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

Build your diet around:

  • Vegetables: Eat a colorful variety of vegetables and some fiber-rich legumes .
  • Fruits: Choose fruits rich in antioxidants and relatively low in sugar, such as fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  • Whole grains: Foods in this group generally contain less sugar and more fiber than their white flour counterparts. Be sure to look at the carbohydrate and fiber content of your whole grains so you can maximize fiber and minimize carbohydrates content per serving.
  • Lean protein: Choose lean cuts of meat , chicken, turkey, or fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, or mackerel.

Try to avoid:

  • Red and processed meats: This includes beef, pork, lamb, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meat.
  • Highly processed foods and refined grain products: A lot of fast food falls into these categories and tends to be higher in fat and carbohydrates and low in fiber.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: Choose water over soft drinks, sports drinks, juice, and fruit drinks with added sugars.
  • Alcohol: If you choose to drink alcohol, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests limiting consumption to one drink a day for women and two a day for men.

We shouldnt be expected to completely give up a food we love, but moderation is key.

Bone Health And Vitamin D

Cancer-Fighting Foods

It’s important for women of all ages to consume adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D to maintain bone health and this may be even more crucial for postmenopausal women due to their increased risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D has promising health benefits alone.

Healthy levels of these nutrients can be achieved by:

  • Consuming low-fat dairy products, fortified soymilk, oily fish , and eggs
  • Receiving 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight daily in addition to a calcium supplement of 1000-1200mg with up to 2,000 IUs total of Vitamin D3 daily. Take these together at your largest meals for increased absorption.

Because Vitamin D deficiency is common and may increase the risk of cancer you may want to ask your doctor to check your blood level where 35-40 ng/mL is considered an optimal level.

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Vitamins Minerals And Antioxidants

Your body needs vitamins and minerals. They help the body:

  • Perform essential functions

  • Grow and develop

Some vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are antioxidants. Research on their role in cancer prevention continues because studies show mixed results.

A review of clinical trials in people shows the following:

Beta carotene. High-dose beta carotene supplements do not seem to prevent cancer. Two large clinical trials have found that people at high risk for lung cancer, including smokers, former smokers, and people exposed to asbestos, have a higher risk of lung cancer if they take high-dose beta carotene supplements.

Calcium and vitamin D. The Womenâs Health Initiative was a large study of women who had been through menopause and were generally well nourished. Researchers studied the effects of supplemental calcium and vitamin D. They found that supplements did not affect colorectal cancer risk.

Folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin found in:

  • Leafy, green vegetables

  • Fruits and fruit juices

  • Dried beans and peas

One form, folic acid, is made in the laboratory and found in dietary supplements. Enriched, white flour is fortified with it. This means that foods made with flour, including breads and cereals, contain folic acid.

Studies show a link between folate and cancer risk. People with low folate levels have a higher risk of:

  • Pancreatic cancer

But clinical studies have not yet shown a relationship between taking extra folic acid and cancer prevention.

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