Does diet really make a difference when it comes to breast cancer?
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is the perfect time to answer this question.
And the answer is a resounding yes. To get you the best possible information, I turned to registered dietitians Sally Scroggs, MS,RD,LD, and Clare McKinley, RD,LD, at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the leading cancer hospitals in the world. They explained that breast cancer risk could be decreased by up to 38% through lifestyle factors including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. In fact, less than 10% of breast cancer appears to have a genetic basis.
For prevention of breast cancer, limiting alcohol to one drink a day (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of spirits) is one of the most important things that you can do. In addition, a plant-based diet loaded with at least two cups a day of a variety of produce is beneficial.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, "no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But scientists believe that the combination of foods in a predominantly plant-based diet may. There is evidence that the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods could interact in ways that boost their individual anti-cancer effects. This concept of interaction, where 1 + 1 = 3, is called synergy."
Some of their top picks for cancer prevention include beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts), dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, romaine, mustard greens), flaxseed, garlic, grapes/grape juice, green tea, soy, tomatoes and whole grains. A recent study in mice suggests that walnuts may also play a role in breast cancer prevention, but these findings need to be confirmed in humans.