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10 Foods That Fight Breast Cancer

By Edited May 2, 2016 1 2

Introduction

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and although the causes of this disease are not clear, lifestyle choices seem to be an impotant factor. There are habits that are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer (what you eat, being overweight, not exercising regularly, using alcohol, etc). There is extensive and cosistent evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risks of many cancers and while results for breast cancer risk are not yet conclusive, they are promising. Other foods that could be beneficial include oily fish, flaxseed, nuts, olive oil and green tea. 

You should know that it is not necessary to adopt a foreign dietary plan to protect yourself. Your diet should be nutritious, rich in basic foods and traditional manufacturing and cooking methods. Find what suits your needs best and try to combine different healthy foods in fun new ways. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a normal body weight-a key factor in breast cancer prevention. Finally, bare in mind that you should always consult your doctor about what steps to take for the early detection of the disease.

The 10 foods mentioned here have a high nutritional value. They are full of vitamins, minerals and potent antioxidants. Their numerous protective properties make them a great addition to a healthy, well-rounded diet.

 

1. Tomatoes

 

tomatoes closeup
Tomatoes are botanically classified as fruit, but are generally used as vegetables. You can eat them raw, in fresh green salads and sandwiches, or cooked for even more health benefits. They are extremely healthy since they contain powerful antioxidant nutrients, vitamins and dietary minerals.

Studies have shown that eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato based products can reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women[1]. Tomatoes contain lycopene, one of the most potent antioxidants. Lycopene is a carotenoid and it is responsible for the red color of this amazing fruit (or vegetable, if you prefer). It prevents carcinogenesis (cancer production) by protecting very important parts of our cells like lipids, lipoproteins, proteins and DNA. The anticancer properties of lycopene are enhanced when you combine it with fat-rich foods. Avocado, olive oil and nuts are some great examples to include in extra-healthy, extra-tasty salads.

2. Mushrooms


mushrooms
Mushrooms have long been celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients. Many species of the delicious fungi provide several B vitamins ( B1, B2, B3) and they're a great source of fiber and protein. Mushrooms are low in calories, very low in sodium and naturally glutten-free. White button mushrooms are one of the very few non animal sources of vitamin D. They are also a very good source of the trace mineral selenium. Crimini mushrooms, a similar variety to white button, contain a great deal of important nutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus and calcium.

Mushrooms are thought to have several anti-cancer effects and they are also linked to brest cancer in particular. A meta-analysis of several studies confirms that there is a link between mushroom consumption and breast cancer prevention[2]. Extracts of certain mushrooms have been shown to inhibit the activity of aromatase, an enzyme responsible for the production of estrogen[3]. This means that there's less estrogen available for the growth of ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) breast cancer cells.

3. Cruciferous Vegetables

broccoli-vegetable
This is a group of green leaf vegetables that includes, among others, cauliflower, cabbage, cress, broccoli and brussel sprouts. These foods are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids, vitamins C, E and K, folate and minerals. They also contain some special substances called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are converted into a number of chemicals which may have anticancer properties.

A swedish study of postmenopausal women reported that one to two daily servings of cruciferous vegetables reduce the risk of breast cancer possibly by s much as 20%-40%[4]. This could be due to a special compound called Indole-3-cardinol (I3C) . I3C has anti-cancer properties and anti-proliferative effects on breast cancer cells[5]. It also plays a part in estrogen metabolism increasing 2-hydroxyestrone:16-a-hydroxyestrone[6]. This means that its promotes the so called “good estrogens”. These act as antioxidants and have the power to eliminate damaged or cancerous cells throughout the body.

4. Bell Peppers

different bell peppers
Bell peppers are a common type of sweet pepper. They usually come in colours-green, red or yellow. They are an excellent dietary source of vitamin C, A and B6. You can use then in your cooking to create really colourful dishes!

Bell peppers contail several substances that might have cancer-fighting properties. They are the source of over 30 carotenoids. According to a recent study “ A diet high in carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables offers many health benefits including a possible reduced risk of breast cancer”[7]. Red bell peppers have the additional benefit of containing lycopene, the carotenoid found in tomatoes. Another important component is a flavonoid called apigenin. Now apigenin is really bad news for cancer cells because it induces apoptosis (cell death), a process that they can inhibit under normal circumstances[8].

5.Olive Oil

olive oil
Olive oil is considered  one of the healthiest oils for cosumption. If possible, you should always opt for extra virgin olive oil since it is pressed mechanically without the use of any chemicals or excess heat. More than 30 phenolic compounds can be found in extra virgin olive oil. Some of them are powerful antioxidants and free radical scavengers. Olive oil is a very good source of vitamins E and K.

Many of its health benefits come from its high content of monounsaturated fats (omega-9 fatty acids). Several case control studies report that olive oil consumption resulted in a 13-14% reduction in breast cancer risk [9][10][11]. Moreover, ther seem to be additional benefits when you combine olive oil with raw vegetables. The salad vegetable dietary pattern has been shown to have significant protective effect against HER-2 positive breast cancers[12]. Try to use olive oil instead of butter whenever you can.

6. Flaxseed

pile of flax seeds
Flaxseeds are a very versatile type of food. You can use them in salad dressings, mix them with cereal or yoghurt, add them in smoothies and sprinkle them over your favourite dish. You can also use them in baked goods such as muffins and bread. It is best to grind them before use because it is easier to digest and absorb their nutrients when their hard shells are broken.

Flaxseed is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is also a good source of vitamin E, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, folate, copper and zinc. Flaxseed is a source of mammalian lignans. These phytoestrogens bind with estrogen and reduce its circulation in the blood. This action may be one of the protective mechanisms of flax for breast cancer[13] Flax may also block tumor growth, inhibit angiogenesis and enhance the immune system[15] .

7. Walnuts

Walnuts
Walnuts are a very ggod source of the much needed omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain numerous phytosterols, polyphenols, carotenoids and soluble fiber. Walnuts have valuable amounts of dietary minerals such as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium and others. In addition, they are a good source of molybdenum and biotin.

There's a lot of research that supports the protective relationship between omega-3 fatty acids against the risk of breast cancer. There is one specific study that suggests walnut consumption significally reduces breast tumor incidence and size in laboratory mice[16]. It is worth noting that walnuts also contain melatonin. Melatonin protects against breast cancer in several ways, for example, it reduces the activity of aromatase within the breast.

8. Oily Fish

raw salmon
This category of fish includes, among others, salmon, tuna sardines, herring, anchovies and trout. Oily fish are a good source of vitamins D and A, and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There seeems to be an inverse relationship between omega-3 fats in breast tissue and the risk of breast cancer[17]. A prospective study reported that women who consumed 44g or more of dietary marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids reduced their risk of breast cancer by 26% when compared with women who consumed 25g or less[18]. In another study, women with the greatest EPA, DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cell membranes from fish had a 73%, 94% and 89% lower risk of breast cancer respectively.[19] 

A healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. Oily fish should be consumed in moderation because they contain pollutants called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins. Long term exposure to these pollutants has serious effects on our health.

9. Pomegranates

pomegranates on a dish
Pomegranates are a fantastic, nutritionally rich fruit with unique flavor and taste. They are a good source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. They also contain vitamin C, B5, K, folates and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium and manganese. Pomegranates are full of polyphenols and antioxidants, some of then unique to this fruit.

According to research, various parts of the pomegranate fruit such as seed oil, juice, fermented juice and peel extract have suppressing effects on human breast cancer cells.[20] Pomegranates contain substances called ellagitannubs which can inhibit various estrogen-producing mechanisms. Research on breast cancer cell lines demonstrated that pomegranate components efficiently inhibited angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), invassiveness, growth anf induced apoptosis (programmed cell death).[21]

10. Green tea

cup of green tea
Green tea is a tasty beverage and a very healthy alternative to black tea and coffee. It contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, chromium and selenium. Green tea is an excellent source of polyphenols, including catechins. The most important of these compounds is EGCE (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), a powerful antioxidant with cancer-fighting abilities.

According to human sturdies, EGCE inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation (rapid reproduction), reduce tumor invasion and metastasis (spread of cancer throught the body), and prevent recurrence of breast cancer in early stages (stage I and II)[22][23][24].What's more, Chinese women who drink green tea daily and eat mushrooms regularly have 89% less risk of developing breast cancer than those who consume neither.[25]

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Comments

Nov 10, 2014 8:06pm
spacemonkey
Nice. I consumed 3 of the 10 tonight in one meal... Put a smile on my face:) Thanks for the handy list - Sometimes getting a book and/or reading extremely lengthy scientific journals about research can be cumbersome and frustrating... Appreciated this immensely!! Kind regards, SM-
Nov 13, 2014 12:16pm
maria52gr
Thank you spacemonkey! Research is most of the time frustrating. Different studies present different results. Moreover, most research about the subject is in early stages. Healthy food can't cure all, but it can surely help with the prevention of several conditions. Eating healthy is always a safe bet!
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Bibliography

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