Best Foods for Breast Health
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
“It has been 11 years since you defeated the big bad C?”
“Yes,” smiled Annie as she leaned into the podcast microphone. “I was diagnosed with an aggressive tumor in my right breast only two months after a mammogram, indicated I had no symptoms. So, it was a shock to learn the tumor which had to be present even then was undetected.”
The interviewer leaned back in her chair, absorbing what she just learned. “That is pretty surprising, and it sounds like your tumor was missed?”
“Not sure what happened,” said Annie. “What I can tell you, once it was detected, there was little time spent on a possible missed diagnosis and more time spent on resolution; one that would save my life,”
Cassie glanced at her notes and then set them aside, “it would be easy to spend this time talking about what happened to you, but I think a better use of our time would be to learn what to do to avoid breast cancer.”
Annie nodded in agreement, breast cancer is the most common cancer, affecting 1 in 8 US women, and for US men, the rate is less than 1%. Researchers say a breast cancer diagnosis is due to a complex set of circumstances, including inheriting genes with genetic mutations for BRCA1 and BRCA2 or other types of DNA damage. Those areas we still have little control over. However, solid evidence demonstrates lifestyle choices such as smoking, heavy consumption of alcohol, and food lacking nutritional value can be fertile ground for cancer. When the Western diet, also known as SAD (standard American diet), with its heavy reliance on processed foods, is compared to the Mediterranean diet, a primarily plant-based approach, the Mediterranean method is healthier for reducing cancer risk.
Leafy vegetables like spinach, greens, and kale contain carotenoid antioxidants, which provide anticancer protection.
Berries, including strawberries and blueberries, a source of anthocyanins and flavonoids, are known to protect against the development of cancer cells.
Citrus fruits provide anticancer protection with their considerable amounts of vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, quercetin, and hesperetin, all compounds that protect against breast cancer.
The same goes for garlic, onions, leeks, and allium veggies that contain vitamin C and antioxidants, known cancer protectors.
The omega-3 fats found in salmon, mackerel, and sardines show promise in thwarting the development of cancer cells.”
Annie continued, “they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and in the case of breast cancer, a study demonstrated women who regularly ate an apple or a pear a day helped keep cancer at bay. And interestingly, peaches contain polyphenol antioxidants which have known to inhibit the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.
Beans with their high fiber appear to help reduce cancer risk.
Probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut protect against cancer.
Within the herb family, research indicates ginger, turmeric, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and curry contain plant antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids that appear to help protect the development of breast cancer.”
Cassie leaned into the microphone, “I’ve been making notes as you talked, so let’s summarize:
The Mediterranean diet, which includes leafy greens, apples, pears, peaches, citrus fruits, beans, probiotic foods, allium veggies, and fatty fish, provides strong diet protection against breast cancer and probably other cancers as well?”
“Yes,” said Annie. “The American Cancer Society supports the scientific evidence of the importance of healthy food choices by including it in their top five ways to reduce breast cancer risk:
Get to and stay at a healthy weight
Be physically active and avoid time sitting
Follow a healthy eating pattern like the Mediterranean diet
Avoid daily consumption of alcohol
Think carefully about using hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.