The Anti-Breast-Cancer Diet
Diet plays an important role in the development — as well as prevention — of breast cancer. The basics of the Anti-Breast-Cancer Diet are simple and they are explained in detail below.
Note: The information below and elsewhere on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care professional for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition, including breast cancer.
#1: Choose Low-GI Foods
Diet tip #1: Go for low GI rather than high GI carbs. Carbohydrates that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and cause a rapid, large rise in blood glucose levels, which in turn generally triggers the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. In contrast, low-GI carbs, which take much longer to digest, cause only a small, slow rise in the blood glucose and insulin levels (dairy products are an exception). Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy, but excess insulin in the bloodstream can lead to a sharp increase in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a protein that has been linked to breast cancer. Furthermore, high levels of insulin and IGF-1 are associated with increased levels of the hormones estrogen and androgen, and high levels of these hormones are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Most non-starchy vegetables, legumes and fruit have a low GI rating, while most refined carbohydrate-rich foods and potatoes are rated high on the Glycemic Index.
#2: Limit Alcohol Consumption
A frequent intake of alcohol has consistently been associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer, but the exact mechanisms by which alcohol causes cancer are not fully understood. However, alcohol has been shown to be able to convert into acetaldehyde in the body (acetaldehyde is what causes hangovers). Acetaldehyde in turn has been shown to cause DNA damage which can lead to breast cancer. In terms of the quantity of alcohol consumed, the higher/more frequent the intake, the higher the risk of breast cancer. However, even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer (but possible reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly in older people). Some studies suggest that the risk of breast cancer in women with a high alcohol consumption could be reduced by an adequate intake of vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B12.
#3: Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in I3C
If you're looking for ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer, here's an excellent diet tip for you: eat more cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables — such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale — have long been touted for their breast cancer fighting properties. These properties are mainly attributable to indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a natural anti-breast cancer compound found in cruciferous vegetables when the plants' cell walls are broken through chopping, crushing, or chewing. According to studies, I3C can help detoxify harmful substances — including carcinogens. I3C has also other ways of interfering with breast cancer, including the partial inactivation of estrogen, destruction of free radicals, and direct interference with reproduction of cancerous cells. I3C also triggers the release of enzymes that promote the breakdown of estrogen precursors into a harmless substances rather than into substances that are linked to breast cancer.
#4: Step Up Your Fiber Intake
Women interested in following an anti-breast cancer diet might also want to increase their intake of dietary fiber. According to a UK study, a high fiber diet could significantly reduce the breast cancer risk in pre-menopausal women. The researchers, who monitored the diet of 35,000 women, found that those pre-menopausal who consumed 30 grams of fiber a day had half the risk of those who ate less than 20 grams. However, the same protective effect was not observed in post-menopausal women. Fiber has been shown to affect the way the body processes and regulates estrogen, which may be among the possible mechanisms for its cancer preventive activity. Estrogen levels are higher in pre-menopausal women.
#5: Avoid Foods That Contain Nitrates
Nitrates are substances that naturally occur in the air, soil, surface water and ground water. They are also naturally found in vegetables. Furthermore, nitrates are used in processed and cured meat to give meat a deep red color. Once consumed, the body can convert nitrates into nitrites, which in turn can react with certain organic compounds found in food to form nitrosamines. Evidence suggests that nitrosamines can cause breast cancer in women; however, nitrosamine formation is inhibited by vitamin C and vitamin E as well as some other antioxidants. As vegetables are usually rich in antioxidants, nitrosamine formation is not a concern when you eat vegetables. This is supported by epidemiological studies of human populations which show no association between a high consumption of nitrate-containing vegetables and cancer, but which show that diets high in nitrate-containing processed meats are a risk factor for breast cancer.
#6: Eat Foods That Provide Ellagic Acid
In the battle against breast cancer, ellagic acid may be one of your best dietary weapons. Mounting evidence confirms that ellagic acid can eliminate breast cancer causing compounds in the body by activating certain detoxifying enzymes. In can also prevent carcinogens from attaching to cellular DNA. Furthermore, ellagic acid has been shown to boost the immune system and to induce normal self-destruction of breast cancer cells. In addition, ellagic acid has strong antioxidant properties which allow it to attack potentially breast cancer causing free radicals. Ellagitannin (which is converted into ellagic acid by the body) is found in a number of red fruits and berries and some nuts such as pecans and walnuts. The most concentrated natural source of ellagitannin is raspberries.
#7: Include Foods Rich in Beta-Glucans in Your Diet
Beta-glucans are polysaccharides that are naturally present in many foods that are rich in soluble fiber. According to studies, beta-glucans can help fight many types of cancer — including breast cancer — by passing immune cells into cancerous areaa and by destroying cancerous cells. The cancer-fighting properties of beta-glucans have also been observed in animal tests. Good sources of beta-glucans include baker's yeast, many cereal grains, and mushrooms.
#8: Count on Curcumin
Curcumin is a powerful phytochemical that gives turmeric its yellow color – and amazing health benefits. Curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries, but in recent years, also western scientists have started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary compound. Recent studies suggest that curcumin possesses a wide range of cancer fighting properties that make a great weapon against almost any type of cancer, including breast cancer. For example, curcumin appears to be able to identify potential cancer cells and to induce self-destruction of cancerous cells — without damaging healthy cells. Furthermore, curcumin is a strong antioxidant properties, and it may be able to prevent nitrosamine formation and inhibit aflatoxin production — two processes which have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.