There are numerous conflicting theories about breast cancer and diet, that can be confusing, however, eating healthily can make a difference to energy levels and overall health.
Breast Cancer and Diet Research
Recent data suggest that around 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop aggressive breast cancer during her life, and 1 in 1000 men will develop the disease, too. The previous diagnosis, increased awareness and advances in treatment have all contributed to an increased rate of survival for people with breast cancer.
Scientists studying breast cancer and diet have made significant advances in the past few years. Though, much of the studies into breast cancer and diet are at a relatively initial stage. But, there are findings that persons can take heed of now, to help decrease the risk of developing breast cancer, and to prevent the reappearance of the disease.
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Dairy and Breast Cancer Risk
Consuming dairy products, such as yogurt, butter, and milk, has been found to be potential triggers for developing breast cancer. This is thought to be either due to high levels of calcium, pesticide residue in the milk, high levels of fat, or dairy sourced hormones.
The growth factors and presence of hormones in milk is one of the more commonly cites theories among nutritionists. IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is a growth factor which has been found to support breast cancer growth. Milk naturally has IGF-1, though, dairy farmers usually give dairy cows BGH (bovine growth hormone) that further upsurges the concentration of insulin-like growth factor in the milk of a cow.
The content of saturated fat in dairy products is also a matter of concern to many nutritionists because high saturated fat intake has been linked to increased breast cancer risk. It has been said that high levels of saturated fat in the diet, improves circulating estrogen concentrations, and increases the risk of breast cancer. 1 2 3 4 5
The Mediterranean Diet and Breast Cancer
Experts have found that following a Mediterranean diet can reduce the breast cancer risk. The Mediterranean Diet is a traditional diet, based on the foods of the countries near the Mediterranean Sea (Italy, France, and Greece). The diet includes large amounts of fresh veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Various studies have found an association between a reduced risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence and the Mediterranean diet.
It’s thought that the benefits of this diet are linked to the phytonutrients gleaned from the vegetables and fruits, the anticancer potentials provided by potent compounds in olive oil, and the little quantities of animal-derived saturated fat.
Breast cancer and Carotenoids
Phytonutrients and carotenoids present in foods such as dark leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Carotenoid compounds include lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene. A large breast cancer research from 2013, revealed a significant correlation between high intake of carotenoids and reduced risk of breast cancer. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that improve immune function. Moreover, they are thought to exert a potent anticancer effect on breast cancer cells by cell suicide induction. 1
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The Eat Well Plate
Try to eat various foods from each of the 4 main food groups each day.
The eat well plate displays the different types of foods we should consume and in what proportions. 1
- Plenty of pasta, potatoes, rice, bread and other starchy foods – choose some whole grain variety whenever you can – these foods are vital for energy. Try to get 1 to 3 handfuls worth at every meal;
- Plenty of fruits and veggies. These provide a range of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low-calorie Adding in a handful at each meal during the day will count for 3 of your 5 per day;
- Some beans, eggs, fish, lean meat and other non-dairy sources of protein, and
- Some dairy foods and milk. Choose full-fat or low-fat versions depending on your appetite and weight.
Additionally, you should:
- avoid consuming fatty foods too often;
- avoid having sugary drinks or food too often. Even though these provide quick fixes, they don’t fill you up and add calories without the benefits of suitable nutrition, and
- drink alcohol in moderation
If you’d like professional help, consult with your GP, dietitian, or another specialist.
There are many theories and studies on breast cancer and diet. People who suffer from breast cancer can help to reduce their risk of disease recurrence by consuming a Mediterranean-inspired diet, rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, olive oil, and whole grains. Patients should include carotenoids containing foods in their diet. In order to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, saturated fat, and dairy products must be avoided.
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