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What Foods To Eat And Avoid To Manage Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer among women worldwide. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in 140 of 184 countries. Many factors such as age, family history, gender, genetics, smoking, body weight and diet increase the risk of breast cancer.

According to a study, diet is responsible for 35% of all cancer cases. A nutritious diet can play an important role in increasing and decreasing the risk of breast cancer [1].

The American Cancer Society recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products and less red meat, alcohol, and sweets.

Keep reading to know what foods can manage the development or progression of breast cancer.

Foods To Eat To Prevent Breast Cancer Risk


1. Fruits

Fruits such as berries, strawberries, blueberries, and black raspberries possess high amounts of polyphenol antioxidants which exhibit anti-cancer properties. According to a study, berries contain phytochemicals that have been linked to the progression of breast cancer [2]. Consume 1 cup of berries daily to cut breast cancer risk.

Another study found that polyphenols present in plums and peaches may prevent breast cancer cells from developing and multiplying [3].


2. Vegetables

Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, beet greens, cauliflower, and cabbage are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K which can help prevent breast cancer risk.

Also, these vegetables contain glucosinolates, a type of chemical that is said to have anti-carcinogenic properties that can prevent the formation of cancerous cells [4].

In addition, orange coloured vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupes contain a powerful compound called carotenoids. These carotenoids can lower the risk of breast cancer according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [5].


3. Whole grains

Whole grain foods like brown rice, oatmeal, corn, barley and farro contain a good amount of polyphenols and other nutrients such as magnesium, protein, and fibre. All of them play a major role in managing breast cancer risk [6].


4. Fatty acids

High intake of omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of breast cancer compared to those who have a low intake of fatty acids [7]. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish, olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocados.


5. Spices

Spices like turmeric, fresh and red chilli peppers can prevent the growth of breast cancer cells. Turmeric contains a powerful compound called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that inhibit the development of breast cancer cells [8].

Chilli peppers contain capsaicin which may prevent the growth and spread of malignant breast cancer cells according to a study [9].


1. Alcohol

Consuming alcohol in moderation has been linked to 30-50% increased risk of breast cancer [10]. According to the Breast Cancer Foundation, women who drink three alcoholic beverages a week are 15% more likely to get breast cancer than women who don't drink.


2. Trans fats

Trans fats are a type of fat found in processed and packaged foods such as fried foods, doughnuts, pastries and crackers. According to a study, trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer [11].


3. Red meat

As per a study, post-menopausal women who consume red meat in high quantities are said to have breast cancer as compared to pre-menopausal women [1]. Decreasing the consumption of red meat may lower the risk of breast cancer.


4. Sugary drinks

Increased consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. A study finding showed that drinking 100 ml of sugary drinks per day increased breast cancer risk by 22% [12].

Tips That May Help Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

  • Choose non-fat dairy products.
  • Bake or broil your food rather than frying it.
  • Eat foods which are low in calories.
  • Avoid salted and smoked foods.
  • Choose organic fruits and vegetables.
Story first published: Monday, January 13, 2020, 19:00 [IST]
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