BreastHealthLink Home Page

Breast Cancer Awareness|Signs of Breast Cancer |Are you at risk |Glossary | Resources | Lifestyle and wellbeing


Eating smarter may reduce risk

While years of dietary research have not turned up any absolutely harmful or helpful factors, the following may have some benefits when it comes to breast cancer prevention:

Don't eat too much Avoid becoming overweight, as obesity can increase cancer risk.
Eat smaller meals Studies on rats indicated that eating smaller meals (and less overall) reduced cancer in these animals.
Eat low-fat foods Although fat consumption didn't emerge as a major factor in the Nurses' Health Study, because fat is higher in kilojoules per gram than carbohydrates or protein, it creates greater body weight, which is a risk factor.
Dig into fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegies replace fat with fibre and a variety of nutrients, Eating foods high in beta-carotene is an important protective factor - taking vitamin A in pill form doesn't have the same effect. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables (not counting potatoes) a day.
Increase your fibre intake As well as fruit and vegetables eat more whole grains such as oat bran and brown rice
Cut down on animal fat Saturated fat is implicated in breast cancer. One factor may be the build up of pollutants in the fatty tissue of animals. Avoid or cut down on fatty meat and high fat milk. Trim all visible fat off meat.
Try organics There is no medical evidence that organic food reduces risk. However there is concern that pesticides and chemicals in food increases cancer risk. If you can't get organics or can't afford them, wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly in water with a couple of drops of detergent to remove pesticide residues.
Watch the barbecue There is some evidence that eating charred meat might increase the risk of breast cancer, but the link is not yet clear. Once reason scientists looked at barbecuing and grilling, is that they found the most effective way to induce cancer in mice is to rub them with one group of chemicals formed when meat is burned.
Get enough folate/folic acid This is critical if you drink alcohol. An analysis from the Nurses' Health Study suggest that women can reduce their alcohol-related breast cancer risk by getting plenty of folic acid through their diet (it's found in whole grains, cereals and leafy green vegetables) or with daily multivitamin supplements.
Copy the Japanese Japanese women in Japan have a significantly lower incidence of breast cancer than western women. This has been attributed to a number of things including higher intake of fish vs meat and use of soy products in moderation.
Cut your alcohol intake Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Consider antioxidant supplements Take a supplement containing betacarotene, vitamins C and E and selenium. Some health foods such as wheatgrass also contain all these antioxidants. Note that taking antioxidants in food is best if you can.
Some specific foods to try
Selenium Brazil nuts
Folate Honeydew melon, linseed meal, spinach, wheatgrass juice, dark lettuces, broccoli, lean meat, wholegrain cereals
Beta-carotene Carrots, wheatgrass juice, spinach, papayas, mangos, rock melons, kumera
Phyto-oestrogens Tofu, soy milk, soy and linseed bread, other soy products
Olive oil The mono-unsaturates may actually reduce breast cancer risk. A large scale Spanish study looked at the effects of cooking with oil and found that women who used the most olive oil had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer
Omega Oil Salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines
Cruciferous vegetables Deep green and yellow vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower
Fibre Oat bran, wheat bran, fruit and vegetables. Raspberries, strawberries, apples and pears are high in fibre.

Learn more about

| Privacy