Fighting Breast Cancer with Nutrition

Women take heed: the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Your chance of developing breast cancer is 1 out of 233 in your twenties, but by age 85 the chances increase dramatically to 1 out of 8.  Research shows there are ways to improve these chances. Implementing healthy eating habits and understanding the consequences of not following good nutrition become even more important for women over 20.

Most experts on breast cancer recommend having a clinical breast exam and a mammogram regularly, but drinking less alcohol, addressing any weight issues, and eating a healthy diet are equally significant.

Drink less alcohol

Alcohol increases your risk for liver, esophageal, larynx, colon, and breast cancer. If you have a family history, your best bet is to avoid alcohol consumption.  The studies are clear that regular intake of alcohol is linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer in women.  Drinking alcohol is a controllable risk factor. Research suggests that by adding 400 mcg of Folic Acid you can offset the effects of alcohol.  Too little folate in the body increases your cancer risk.

Daily dose of cruciferous vegetables

Every day eat one serving of the crunchy cruciferous vegetables (hyperlink to my article on this). Some examples are: kale, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, Bok Choy, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and kohlrabi, all of which help build your immune system. I like to mix up my favorite salad or soup, and always include one of these.  But remember all vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, and show promise for reducing cancer risk.

Extra weight …more cancer

If you are overweight, lose weight.  Easily said, I know, but eat less of the sugary drinks, cakes, cookies, candy, and highly processed foods like chips and crackers because of the high calories. Diets high in fat, are loaded with calories and contribute to obesity, which increases the odds for cancer. In March 2008, a study done at University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center showed that obese and overweight women had lower breast cancer survival rates.

Cancer fighting tips

  • Add 200 mcg of Selenium, a mineral which protects against cancer
  • Daily eat 1-2 tablespoons of golden ground flax seed, as the seeds are rich in lignans which have been shown to reduce tumor size
  • Exercise 30-40 minutes daily to lose weight
  • Limit intakes of soy, because of their estrogenic effect on the body
  • Drink at least 8 cups water daily, the water dilutes  the exposure to the cancer and limits the amount of time the body is exposed to the toxins
  • Avoid foods loaded with preservatives or artificial substances

Taking care of your health is more important than ever.  By making the dietary and health changes you can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Exercise, a healthy diet (one low in fat, and sugar and high in vegetables and fiber), and achieving a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of breast cancer or prevent cancer from returning. Try this cruciferous rich recipe to fight cancer.

Carol Bennett is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Clinical Nutritionist with more than 25 years of experience.  

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