Can Diet Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Diet has quite an impact on the way the body works, including the development of cancers.
Theres still some controversy surrounding foods containing estrogen-like compounds, like soy, red meats and dairy, and whether they contribute to estrogen-positive breast cancer. These foods all have estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals in them, says Generose. However, research outcomes vary by type of food, how much of that food is eaten over time, the genetic makeup of the person and their diet overall.
Some foods have cancer-fighting properties while others have cancer-causing properties. If you focus on eating healthy, nutritious foods, it may help reduce your risk of developing estrogen-positive breast cancer.
Eating A Healthy Diet
Most research on possible links between diet and the risk of breast cancer coming back has looked at broad dietary patterns, rather than specific foods. In general, its not clear if eating any specific type of diet can help lower your risk of breast cancer coming back. Studies have found that breast cancer survivors who eat diets high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, chicken, and fish tend to live longer than those who eat diets that have more refined sugars, fats, red meats , and processed meats . But its not clear if this is due to effects on breast cancer or possibly to other health benefits of eating a healthy diet.
Two large studies have looked at the effects of lowering fat intake after being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. One study found that women on a low-fat diet had a small reduction in the risk of cancer coming back, but these women had also lost weight as a result of their diet, which might have affected the results. The other study did not find a link between a diet low in fat and the risk of cancer coming back.
While the links between specific types of diets and breast cancer coming back are not certain, there are clearly health benefits to eating well. For example, diets that are rich in plant sources are often an important part of getting to and staying at a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet can also help lower your risk for some other common health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Foods That May Lower Breast Cancer Risk
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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Breast Cancer Risk Factors
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
Smoking And Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is emerging evidence that smoking may affect the risk of breast cancer recurrence but further research is needed to find out more.
We know smoking causes a range of health conditions. If you want to stop smoking there are a range of programmes to help. Speak to your pharmacist, GP or practice nurse for advice.
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There Is No Perfect Diet
Some people might find it reassuring to be handed a special cancer diet: a firm list of what foods to eat and not eat after a cancer diagnosis. But nutritionists say there is no such thing as a fool-proof, cancer-busting diet, despite many popular claims that people with cancer should absolutely avoid refined sugar, alcohol, and other forbidden foods that frequently pop up in a Google search.
Instead, nutritionists advocate for a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits that satisfy the senses and serve up healthy nutrients. That approach can also help avoid excessive weight gain, which research has linked to certain kinds of cancer.
While there are absolutely so many things you can do with your everyday diet to help support your immune system and help support your body, we want to get away from the mindset that there is one prescriptive diet that everyone should follow, says Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, LDN, CSO, co-founder and director of nutrition at Wellness Guides Personalized Nutrition & Fitness Coaching, in Boston.
Getting To A Healthy Weight
If you have had breast cancer, getting to and staying at a healthy weight might help lower your risk. A lot of research suggests that being overweight or obese raises the risk of breast cancer coming back. It has also been linked with a higher risk of getting lymphedema, as well as a higher risk of dying from breast cancer.
However, there is less research to show whether losing weight during or after treatment can actually lower the risk of breast cancer coming back. Large studies are now looking at this issue. This is complicated by the fact that many women gain weight during breast cancer treatment, which itself might increase risk.
Of course, for women who are overweight, getting to a healthy weight can also have other health benefits. For example, weight loss has been shown to improve quality of life and physical functioning among overweight breast cancer survivors. Getting to a healthy weight might also lower your risk of getting some other cancers , as well as some other chronic diseases.
Because of the possible health benefits of losing weight, many health care providers now encourage women who are overweight to get to and stay at a healthy weight. Still, its important to discuss this with your doctor before trying to lose weight, especially if you are still getting treatment or have just finished it. Your health care team can help you create a plan to lose weight safely.
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Don’t Skip Your Regular Check Ups
Dr. Albert Arteaga, CEO of LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc reminds people how important consistent visits to your physician are. In a recent press release he said, “Too many people stay away from a doctor’s office because they think if they feel okay, they don’t need to go in for an annual check-up. By the time they start to feel ill, they end up in the ER, and sometimes it’s just too late to save them.”
Dr. Arteaga shares how his sister died of breast cancer and revealed, “My sister never opened up to tell either me or her older sisterboth of us doctorsthat she had a lump on her breast. Later we learned that she kept making excuses about it, ‘I bumped myself’ or ‘It’s just a bruise’ and she basically ignored it for over six months.”
He adds, “According to the CDC, seven out of 10 U.S. deaths are caused by chronic disease. Roughly half of the country’s population has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, AIDS, or other conditions classified by the medical community as preventable. Only 25.2 percent, or one in four people, report having a recent routine check-up. Yet, routine cardiovascular exams alone save tens of thousands of adult lives each year, while vaccines save the lives of roughly 42,000 children on an annual basis,” the CDC states.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Signs of breast cancer include pathological changes in milk ducts and lobules, and both locations include changes with mild hyperplasia, atypical ductal hyperplasia, ductal carcinoma in situ or the invasive cancer. Recognized risk factors for breast cancer include: age over 50 years of age, the family burden, endo- and exogenous sex hormones, obesity, low physical activity, alcohol abuse, exposure to ionizing radiation and diet. About 5-10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary. A 56-85% risk of developing breast cancer occurs in women with mutations of suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 .
Another factor that may determine occurrence of breast cancer is primary immunodeficiencies, and especially ataxia telangiectasia syndrome which is characterized by mutations of the AT gene .
The oral contraceptives usage and its direct association with breast cancer is still a matter of debate. But a number of studies has demonstrated an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer in women taking these hormonal therapies .
Another factor increasing the risk of developing breast cancer is exposure to ionizing radiation, especially at a young age .
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How To Treat Estrogen Excess:
- Detox and love your your liver with fiber rich foods, and by pooping everyday, at least once, but more is ideal! Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day to help you go. Add liver-supporting nutrients to your diet . You can also add a DIM supplement to help move estrogen out of the body.
- Remove endocrine-disrupting chemicals from all products and switch to products that are plant based and actually natural read the ingredients even if the label says natural because that truly means nothing! Use the Think Dirty app or the EWG Skin Deep database to check what score your products receive.
- Nourish and treat your microbiome health by eliminating inflammatory, processed foods or foods you are sensitive to, buy organic produce as often as you can, eat raw sauerkraut and kimchi, include probiotic-rich foods and a high-quality probiotic supplements, add a digestive enzyme before meals).
- Incorporate theseessential hormone-balancing supplements, especially if you are plant-based.
The Danger Of Creating Food Scarcity
Everyone knows hard candy isnt health food, but for those who love it, it offers other benefits.
Like the pure joy of eating it.
If you adore hard candy, banishing it from your diet is that torture I spoke of earlier.
It drives feelings of deprivation, guilt and shame. You likely consider yourself bad when you allow yourself to eat it.
Lying, cheating, and stealing make you bad. Eating hard candy does not.
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Research Into Dietary Supplements And Cancer
There is no reliable evidence that any dietary supplement can help to prevent cancer. Some research has found that taking certain supplements could increase the risk of some cancers developing.
There is evidence that a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce your cancer risk.
Research has looked at whether certain vitamins and supplements can help to prevent cancer in certain groups of people.
A study looked at vitamin D supplements in preventing cancer and heart disease. The researchers found that vitamin D supplements did not lower the incidence of cancer or heart disease.
An organisation called The Cochrane Collaboration carries out systematic reviews. These are overviews of all the research into a specific issue. The reviews look at the published results of all the trials that have investigated a certain treatment in a particular situation. They pull all that information together and draw conclusions.
A Cochrane review published in 2018 looked at an essential mineral called selenium. They wanted to see if selenium supplements could reduce cancer risk. After looking at all the information they found that selenium did not reduce cancer risk. Some of the trials reported a higher incidence of high grade prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes in people who took selenium supplements.
Foods To Avoid During Cancer Treatment
If your treatment has caused side effects like nausea, taste changes, or mouth sores, you probably have already started your own mental list of foods youd much rather steer clear of. However, there are some foods that no matter how good they sound are probably best avoided due to the risk of foodborne illness, aka food poisoning. Because some treatments can weaken your immune system until at least a few weeks after theyve ended , food poisoning is not something to tempt. The results of developing a foodborne illness can be serious.
Eating raw or undercooked foods is a common cause of food poisoning. Proper cooking destroys bacteria, but they can start to grow on cooked food if it is left out or in the refrigerator for too long. Food also can become contaminated when someone infected with a virus or other bug handles it.
Paying attention to food safety rules and being extra careful when handling, preparing, and storing food is definitely important. However, some people who are receiving or have recently finished cancer treatment should avoid some foods entirely, even if they may have eaten them with no problems in the past. These include:
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Are Soy And Flaxseeds Ok
Soy contains phytoestrogens, or plant-based estrogens, which has raised concerns regarding soys role in the development of breast cancer however, whole soy products, such as tofu, edamame or soy milk, have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, including ER-positive cancers. This plant protein is also considered a healthy choice for breast cancer survivors.
In fact, a 2010 study from JAMA of more than 5,000 women living in China linked regular, whole soy intake to a reduced recurrence of all breast cancer types. However, isolated soy found in supplements, soy powder or processed foods should not be emphasized, as these foods have not been shown to be protective.
Flaxseeds are rich in lignans, a phytoestrogen, and also a good source of omega-3 fats and dietary fiber. Animal studies have shown that components of flaxseed can reduce tumor size and inhibit the growth of ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer cells and that foods that contain lignan, such as flaxseed, may help decrease breast cancer risk, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Although incorporating small amounts of flaxseed into a healthy diet is encouraged, inadequate human research is available to recommend large amounts of flaxseed, or flaxseed supplements, as a therapy for breast cancer.
What Are The Best Foods To Eat During Breast Cancer Treatment
Examples of really good foods to eat during breast cancer treatments include the following:
- Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage.
- Protein-rich foods are great, and ideal for snacking, to help your body repair and support the immune system. Nuts, chicken bites, hardboiled eggs, low fat yoghurt and cheese with crackers are good examples.
- Eat whole grains, so the whole wheat or whole grain versions of your everyday staples. Brown or granary/seeded bread is both delicious and healthy. Brown rice, whole wheat pasta and noodles are also better than their more processed counterparts.
- Herbal teas can be helpful if you are not feeling 100%, such as ginger or mint tea.
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If You Have Side Effects
Nausea. If you experience nausea, your dietitian may recommend that you try to eat more foods that are cool or at room temperature because they dont have a strong odor. It may also help to eat lower-fat food since fats take longer to digest.
Dont skip meals entirely if you have nausea, since an empty stomach can make nausea worse, Taylor says. Instead, focus on small bites of food throughout the day. Avoid strong flavors. Feel free to incorporate ginger root into your recipes, as this can help settle a nauseated stomach.
Constipation. If constipation becomes an issue, your dietitian may encourage you to eat fiber-rich foods and increase your fluid intake, Taylor adds. Low-intensity walking and warm beverages also can help encourage regular bowel movements.
Fatigue. To combat fatigue, choose high-protein snacks and small frequent meals rather than large meals. People often experience more fatigue when theyre not eating well, or when theyre losing weight during treatment.
If youre experiencing any side effect that affects your ability to eat regularly, ask your care team if you can meet with a dietitian to review individualized nutrition recommendations.
Watch Alcohol And Salt Intake
Drink only a little alcohol or skip it altogether. Women who drink three to six alcoholic drinks a week have a 15% greater chance of breast cancer. Alcohol can inflame your liver as it works to break down chemo drugs. Alcohol can also worsen mouth sores caused by chemo.
Salty foods can raise your blood pressure. Avoid pickled, cured, or smoked foods that are high in salt.
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Should You Skip Sugar
The idea that sweets âfeed cancerâ has been around for a long time. The truth is more complicated. A spoonful to take the edge off your coffee will not directly make cancer cells grow faster. But itâs still wise to keep an eye on how much you add to your diet. A lot of sugar on a regular basis can lead to obesity and other conditions that make cancer more likely.
What Are Natural Estrogen Blockers
Natural estrogen blockers
Wild nettle root: Nettle root or nettle leaves are often used to make prostate medication. Nettles contain compounds that act as natural estrogen blockers. Taking supplements can regulate production of the hormone. Chrysin: This flavonoid is found in passionflower, honey, and bee propolis.
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Whats The Best Diet For Weight Loss
Research shows that limiting the number of calories you eat is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. To lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, you may need to make lifestyle changes, and dieting alone may not work. Cutting out whole food groups, such as fats or carbohydrates, also isnt likely to work and is hard to keep doing for long periods of time.
If you exercise often, you can increase your lean muscle tissue. This will increase the rate at which your body burns calories. Exercise regularly to keep or increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your fat mass.