Breast Cancer Prevention Through Diet

What should I eat to prevent cancer?
The American Cancer Society predicts that this year, 178,480 women and 2,030 men will learn they have invasive breast cancer. Current statistics predict that one in seven women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. And the number of men diagnosed with breast cancer has increased by 25 percent in the past 25 years.

What is Breast Cancer?

Cells in your body are constantly forming and reproducing. When cells grow in an uncontrolled manner, a mass of tissue forms, called a tumor. Tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If a cancerous growth is left untreated, the cells can attack and damage healthy breast tissues. It can then spread to other areas of the body.

Early detection and treatment can increase a person's chance of surviving the cancer and saving the breast. Lifestyle factors such as minimizing stress, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet can reduce a person's chances of getting breast cancer.

Which Foods Should You Increase in Your Diet in Order to Get the Best Cancer Prevention Benefits?

Consuming insoluble and soluble fiber daily may lower the levels of estrogen in the body. Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movement and prevents constipation. It also moves toxins through the intestines more rapidly to reduce absorption. Soluble fiber lowers LDL cholesterol therefore reducing the risk of heart disease and regulating blood sugar.

Insoluble and soluble fibers are found in cruciferous vegetables such as turnips, brussels sprouts, parsley and cabbage; dried fruits like peaches, figs, apricots and prunes; whole grains including wheat bran, wheat germ, oat bran and corn bran; Legumes such as white, pinto beans, kidney beans, seeds and nuts. Strive to get 25-35 grams of fiber per day.

Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are known to contain phytochemicals with antioxidant properties that may prevent cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and dark green leafy vegetables are particularly high in phytochemicals.

Also include beta-carotene rich produce like winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes. Tomatoes, red grapefruit and guava contain lycopene, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are all loaded with vitamin C, folate, fiber and phytonutrients. Eat artichokes and milk thistle for silymarin; it can prevent toxins from absorbing into the liver.

The body uses omega-3 as an anticoagulant and it can help lower triglycerides. That means they are very useful in preventing cardiovascular disease as well as cancer and important to a balanced diet. Omega-3 fats are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. Include fish in your diet two or three times per week. These healthy fats can also be found in green leafy vegetables, soy, tofu, nuts and seeds such as almonds, pine nuts, peanuts and flax seed. Flax is a source of lignan precursors, which are converted inside the body to a weak anti-estrogen. They may be useful in preventing or treating estrogen-responsive tumors. Fresh ground flax is best absorbed and can be added to many of your favorite foods. One or two tablespoons are recommended per day for cancer prevention.

For cooking, marinating and salad dressings use olive or coconut oil. Both are easily digested and converted by the body. No other naturally occurring oil has the high amounts of monounsaturated fats than olive oil offers. Coconut oil has tremendous healing powers and can tolerate high temperatures in cooking.

Soy has been the center of debate among Oncologists and scientists for almost two decades. Research is inconclusive as to whether the protein has breast cancer inhibiting or triggering effects.

Until more is known, I recommend clients to continue with a 15 g daily intake of quality soy protein, if they already include it in their diet but not to increase or add soy if they aren't currently using it. Other proteins such as dairy products should be included in a daily diet, one or two servings per day of organic dairy products, (grass fed cattle is preferred). Conjugated linoleic acid is one ingredient found in cow and sheep meat and milk, which has been noted for its anticancer activity.

Additional suggestions
  • Include plenty of fresh herbs and green tea. These can be consumed liberally.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Buy organic whenever possible.
Which foods should you minimize or avoid?
  • Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils
  • Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • Preservatives and dyes
  • Packaged and processed foods
  • White flour
  • Refined sugar
Age Range  Chance of Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
30 to 39  1 out of 229 (less than .5%) 
40 to 49  1 out of 68 (about 1.5%) 
50 to 59   1 out of 37 (3%) 
60 to 69   1 out of 26 (4%) 

  • American Cancer Society

Amy is an International Presenter and Author for the fitness industry in the areas of facility design, business development, leadership and fitness & nutrition programming. Amy was a two-sport Collegiate and Semi-Pro Athlete, which naturally led her to a career as a Strength Coach and Fitness Professional. She is a Certified Conditioning Specialist (NSPA), Certified Lifestyle Weight Management Counselor (ACE) and Holistic Lifestyle Coach (CHEK). She and her Husband founded the Four Seasons Yoga Studio, La Jolla, CA, where they live. She is the Lead Fitness Consultant for the SHAPE Study at UCSD Cancer Center, contributing Fitness Expert for NBC 7/39 KFMB, San Diego Union Tribune, American Council on Exercise and IDEA. She can be contacted at ,

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