12 Best Foods that help in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Risk

Foods that help in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Risk

They are so many factors that can influence your risk of cancer, and they include your lifestyle and genetics. With the help of science, foods and beverages have been discovered that can help in the reduction– or increment of your breast cancer risk. In addition, you will learn about chemicals like parabens and pesticides.

Breast cancer is one the most common cancer in women, with invasive breast cancer affecting 1 in every 8 women in the United States during their lifetime. It also occurs in men, although male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases.

DNA damage and genetic mutations may cause breast cancer. Inheriting certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can likewise increase your risk, as can having obesity.

Lifestyle also plays a critical role. Research links smoking, estrogen exposure, heavy drinking, and certain dietary patterns — including Western diets high in processed foods — to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Notably, studies associate other eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Moreover, specific foods may even protect against this disease.

Here are 12 foods that may help reduce your risk of breast cancer as well as a few to avoid.

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, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Even with a nutrient-rich diet, you still need regular breast cancer screenings like mammograms and manual checks. After all, early detection and diagnosis significantly increase survival rates. Ask a healthcare professional for advice about breast cancer screenings.

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

1. Leafy green vegetables

These are just a few of the leafy green vegetables that may have anticancer properties:

  • kale
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • mustard greens
  • chard

Leafy green vegetables contain carotenoid antioxidants, including beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Higher blood levels of these antioxidants are associated with reduced breast cancer risk.

An older 2012 analysis of 8 studies in 7,011 women found that those with higher levels of carotenoids had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer compared with women with lower levels.

Likewise, a large 2015 study linked higher blood levels of total carotenoids to an 18%–28% reduced risk of breast cancer as well as a reduced risk of recurrence and death in those who already had breast cancer. This study followed 32,826 women over a 20-year period.

Some research has found that intake of folate, a B vitamin concentrated in leafy green vegetables, may help protect against breast cancer. Research is mixed overall on whether folate intake has a significant impact, positive or negative, on breast cancer risk. More studies are needed.

2. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, may help lower your risk of breast cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate compounds, which your body can convert into molecules called isothiocyanates. These have significant anticancer potential.

Notably, a study involving 1,493 Southern Chinese women linked higher total cruciferous vegetable intake to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

3. Allium vegetables

an assortment of onions, shallots, and heads of garlic against a gray background Foods that help in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Risk

Garlic, onions, and leeks are all allium vegetables. They boast an array of nutrients, including organosulfur compounds, flavonoid antioxidants, and vitamin C. These may have powerful anticancer properties.

A study involving 660 women in Puerto Rico tied high garlic and onion intake to a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Likewise, a study involving 582 Iranian women found that high intake of garlic and leeks may protect against breast cancer. High intake of raw onion may have a small protective effect as well. Interestingly, the study also found that high consumption of cooked onion was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Thus, more research on onions and breast health is needed.

4. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits include:

  • oranges
  • grapefruits
  • lemons
  • limes
  • tangerines

Citrus fruits and their peels are teeming with compounds that may protect against breast cancer, including:

  • folate
  • vitamin C
  • carotenoids like beta cryptoxanthin and beta carotene
  • flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin, hesperetin, and naringenin

These nutrients have antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.

In fact, research ties citrus fruit to a reduced risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. An older 2013 literature review of 6 studies involving 8,393 people linked high citrus intake to a 10% reduction in breast cancer risk.

5. Berries

nine cartons of fresh strawberries Foods that help in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Risk

Regularly enjoying berries may help lower your risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

Antioxidants in berries, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, have been shown to protect against cellular damage as well as the development and spread of cancer cells.

Notably, an older 2013 study involving 75,929 women linked higher intake of berries — and blueberries in particular — to a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

6. Peaches, apples, pears, and grapes

Fruits — specifically peaches, apples, pears, and grapes — have been shown to safeguard against breast cancer.

In the large 2013 study mentioned above, women who consumed at least 2 servings of peaches each week had up to a 41% reduced risk of developing estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

Interestingly, an older study from 2014 revealed that polyphenol antioxidants from peaches inhibited the growth and spread of a human breast cancer cell line implanted in an animal model.

Studies analyzing data from hundreds of thousands of women have also linked apple and pear intake to a lower risk of breast cancer.

Some test-tube studies also show that certain compounds found in grapes — including flavonoids and anthocyanins — can protect against breast cancer cells. More research involving humans is needed.

7. Fatty fish

Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, are known for their impressive health benefits. Their omega-3 fats, selenium, and antioxidants like astaxanthin may offer protective effects against cancer.

Some studies show that eating fatty fish may specifically reduce your risk of breast cancer.

One older literature review from 2013 analyzed 21 studies involving a total of 883,585 people. Researchers found that those with the highest intake of seafood sources of omega-3s had up to a 14% reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who ate the lowest amount.

Other studies on the consumption of fish and its fatty acids report similar findings.

Balancing your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio by eating more fatty fish and less refined oils and ultra-processed foods may help reduce your breast cancer risk as well.

8. Fermented foods

Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut contain probiotics and other nutrients that may safeguard against breast cancer.

A 2015 literature review of 27 studies linked consumption of dairy products, including fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, to a reduced risk of breast cancer in both Western and Asian populations.

Test-tube studies and animal research suggest that this protective effect is related to the immune-enhancing effects of certain probiotics.

9. Beans

three bowls filled with either uncooked black beans, uncooked cranberry beans, or uncooked chickpeas Foods that help in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Risk

Beans are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Specifically, their high fiber content may protect against breast cancer.

A study involving 4,706 women found that high bean intake reduced breast cancer risk by up to 20% compared with low bean intake.

Additionally, in a study involving 1,260 Nigerian women, those with the highest intake of beans had up to a 28% reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those with the lowest intake.

10. Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices contain plant compounds that may help protect against breast cancer. These include vitamins, fatty acids, and polyphenol antioxidants.

For example, oregano boasts the antioxidants carvacrol and rosmarinic acid. A 2017 test-tube study found that these antioxidants exhibit significant anticancer effects against aggressive breast cancer cell lines.

Curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, has also demonstrated significant anticancer properties, as has apigenin, a flavonoid concentrated in parsley.

As many other herbs and spices have powerful anticancer effects as well, it’s a good idea to include a wide variety in your diet, such as thyme, curry spice mixes, and ginger.

11. Whole grains

Whole grains like wheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and rye are rich in a variety of important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

What’s more, they may also possess powerful cancer-fighting properties.

In fact, one 2016 study found that consuming at least seven servings of whole grains each week was linked to a significantly lower risk of the development of breast cancer in women.

Another study involving 10,812 middle-aged women showed that eating more high quality carbohydrates, such as whole grains, was associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer over a 12-year period.

Furthermore, other research suggests that adding whole grains to your diet could also protect against several other types of cancer as well, including pancreatic, colorectal, stomach, and esophageal cancers.

12. Walnuts

Walnuts have a long list of benefits and are a great source of heart-healthy fats, including alpha-linolenic acid.

Interestingly, some research suggests that adding walnuts and other types of nuts to your diet could even help protect against breast cancer.

According to a 2015 study involving 201 people, those who consumed the highest amount of walnuts, peanuts, and almonds each week were 2–3 times less likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn’t consume any nuts.

Another small study looked at the effect of walnuts on women with breast cancer. The researchers found that consuming 2 ounces (57 grams) of walnuts each day for 2–3 weeks led to significant changes in levels of specific genes that control the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

In addition, one 2016 test-tube study showed that certain compounds isolated from walnuts were able to block the growth of breast cancer cells by 63%.

SUMMARY

Foods that may help lower your risk of breast cancer include numerous veggies and fruits, fatty fish, fermented foods, beans, many herbs and spices, whole grains, and walnuts.

Fruits — specifically peaches, apples, pears, and grapes — have been shown to safeguard against breast cancer. In the large 2013 study mentioned above, women who consumed at least 2 servings of peaches each week had up to a 41% reduced risk of developing estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.
Milk products are a major source of calcium, and the available evidence suggests diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Vitamin D, lactoferrin and milk fat may also be important anti-cancer milk components.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating bananas, One 2009 study of Chinese women found that banana consumption was associated with lower risk of breast cancer. As noted above, bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which has been reported in some studies to be inversely associated with breast cancer risk.
Cruciferous vegetable-based juices: Look for juices that contain vegetables like kale, collards, bok choy, cabbage, or spinach. They’re all in the cruciferous family of vegetables and have loads of vitamin A. They also have phytonutrients, or plant-based compounds known to decrease cancer risk.
The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day, limiting red and processed meats, and choosing whole-grain instead of refined-grain foods. A healthy breakfast focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins.
Women who ate or drank higher amounts of milk, yogurt, hard cheese, cottage/ricotta cheese, ice cream, and dietary calcium, were unlikely to have an increased risk of breast cancer, and women with the highest dietary intake of calcium (from all sources) had a very slightly lower risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating almonds, Although almonds share some of the favorable characteristics of other tree nuts such as walnuts, there is little specific evidence concerning almond consumption and breast cancer risk.
Breast Cancer Study. A 2015 study found that a high consumption of nuts, including peanuts, was associated with 2-3 times reduced risk of breast cancer. This study was published in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation and compared 97 breast cancer cases to 102 normal cases in Mexico.
Citrus fruit, like grapefruits and oranges, may have a role in preventing certain cancers. One large study in Japan found that people who had citrus fruits or juices 3-4 days a week were less likely to get cancer than those who had them 2 or fewer days a week.
Consider avoiding eggs completely if you have had a reproductive cancer or are at high-risk for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Limit red meat to once a week or less and avoid cooking at high temperatures.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating brown rice. In addition, rice has been shown to reduce colony formation of triple negative (ER-/PR-/HER2-) breast cancer cells. The anthocyanins and melatonin found in black, purple and red rice have additional chemo-preventive properties.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating eggs. Most human population studies have reported either no association between egg consumption and breast cancer risk, or a small reduction or increase in risk. Major egg micronutrients choline, lutein and zeaxanthin have been linked to reduced breast cancer risk.
A Greek study also found that women with breast cancer consumed significantly fewer cucumbers than those without breast cancer. A Swiss study also reported that consumption of cucumbers, among other fruits and vegetables, was associated with significant protection against breast cancer.
Anthocyanins — a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes — have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in test-tube studies, including those of the bladder, colon, stomach, and breast.
The bottom line. Although dark chocolate has a nutrient profile that is in many respects potentially beneficial (assuming it has a low level of sugar), it also has unfavorable properties that should limit intake for those with breast cancer.
Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, oats, whole grains, spices and teas provide unique benefits not found in other foods. These benefits help reduce the risks of certain cancers and can even slow tumor growth and recurrence. Most of these plant-based foods provide plenty of other health benefits too.
Treatment for breast cancer will be successful for most people, and the risk of recurrence gets less as time goes on. Recurrence, unfortunately, can happen even many years after treatment, so no one can say with certainty that you’re definitely cured.
Honey has potential use in ‘cancer therapy’. Recent studies on human breast (Fauzi et al., 2011), cervical (Fauzi et al., 2011), oral (Ghashm et al., 2010) and osteocarcoma (Ghashm et al., 2010) cancer cell lines using Malaysian jungle Tualang honey showed significant anticancer activity.

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