Breast Cancer and Diet

How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for cancer? Much more than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are 2 key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that you can do something about this.

Besides quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.

The American Cancer Society recommends eating mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains and less red meat (beef, pork, lamb), less processed meat (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs) and fewer sweets. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain cancer types.

Control your weight

Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause)

Be more active

Watching how much you eat will help you control your weight. The other key is to be more physically active. Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control. It can also help improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.

More good news – physical activity helps you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes too! So Start today with your exercise routine (150 minutes of moderate –intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking) every week would be beneficial. 

Healthy Diet is what you need

A healthy diet can also help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity increase the risk for getting breast cancer. Many studies about foods and breast cancer risk have had different results, but no clear-cut answers. Here are some of these food groups that tells us about their link to Cancer such as fat, vitamin supplements, soy, dairy and sugar.

Fat

Many studies have found that breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is low in total fat, low in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. But when researchers have looked at the amount of fat eaten by women in the United States, they have not found a link to breast cancer risk. This could be because women in countries where breast cancer is less common also have other differences besides the amount of fat they eat. Those differences may include how much physical activity they get, what else they eat and genetic factors.

Vitamin Supplements

Till now there is no Study that proves taking supplements decrease the risk of Cancer. This includes vitamin D, which was studied to see if it could play a role in breast cancer risk. The results didn’t prove anything one way or another. But as Health experts we’re reluctant to recommend vitamin supplements for lowering the risk of any type of cancer because some studies actually found an increased risk of breast cancer in women with higher levels of certain nutrients. Before taking any vitamins or are thinking about starting, you should always go back to your doctor for advice.

Soy

You may have heard that you shouldn’t eat soy if you are at risk for breast cancer, as these plant-based chemicals are similar in structure to estrogen. Most breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen (or, as doctors say, “estrogen-receptor-positive” or “ER-positive”) which means that estrogen fuels their growth. So there was a fear that soy could act as estrogen in the body and stimulate cancer cells.

But a steady stream of studies showed that a diet high in soy didn’t increase the chances of developing breast cancer and may even reduce that risk.

In general, it’s fine to eat moderate amounts of soy foods – about one to three servings per day as part of a balanced diet (a serving is about a half cup). If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are concerned about any isoflavone effects, ask your doctor or a registered dietician about how much soy you can eat.

Dairy

There are some early studies that raised concerns about whether drinking milk from cows treated with hormones could raise the risk of breast cancer or other types of cancer. But later studies failed to find a clear link. At this time, it is not clear that drinking milk produced with or without hormone treatment is of any concern regarding cancer risk or other health effects.

Sugar

There is a myth that says: “Sugar feeds cancer.” But the truth is that sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But consuming more sugar does not make cancer cells grow faster and starving them of sugar doesn’t make them grow slower.

However, eating a lot of sugar, including desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages, can lead you to gain weight, which may increase the risk of cancer.

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