A healthy diet has been shown to be one of the most important factors in the prevention of and the recovery from breast cancer. It is very effective in supporting the body’s immune system that destroys cancer cells and also many plant foods actually contain nutrients that have been shown to slow the replication of cancer cells, and inhibit the spread of cancer.
For this reason a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and legumes is recommended. Organic food is preferable when available and pure mineral water in glass bottles reduces exposure to xenoestrogens from plastic containers. Avoiding or limiting exposure to harmful chemicals from skincare and household cleaning products as well as pesticides, hormones and other toxins in some foods will mean the body’s detoxification ability will be strengthened. Liver detoxification can be supported with specific foods and supplements.
Factors that may increase risk are:
· Intensively farmed or processed meats
· Saturated fats
· Dairy products
· Refined and artificial sugar
· Excess calorie intake
· Excess alcohol
· Fried or burnt food
· Processed foods
Factors that may lower risk include:
· Whole grains – oats, oat bran, millet, barley, rye and buckwheat
· Seeds (especially flaxseeds),pumpkin, soaked chia and sunflower
· Non GM soy (please see exceptions below) and other legumes
· Oily fish (omega 3) wild salmon or trout, sardines, mackerel
· All vegetables, nuts and legumes
· All fruits except for dried if containing sulphates
· Soluble fibre – especially pectin in oats, apples and pears
· Antioxidants (found in all plants foods)
· Anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega 3 oils
· Mineral or filtered water
· Probiotics – >70% of immune system is in the GI tract
· Regular exercise especially walking and rebounding
· Adequate sleep due to detoxification and also melatonin
· Stress management and relaxation – alternative therapies can be supportive
Cooking methods are important, as meats cooked at high temperatures produce carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that appear to initiate and promote cancer growth as well as cancer spread with oestrogen-like effects. HCAs also found in cigarette smoke. The body’s detoxification systems can get eliminate these toxins with the right nutrients and but it would be better to limit or avoid them.
Certain foods and lifestyle factors have been shown to be especially protective and these include:
· Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil (omega 6 and lignans). Flaxseeds contain precursors to lignans that are activated by beneficial gut bacteria. Lignans can dampen the effects of oestrogen in the body and have been shown to be protective. Flaxseeds have been shown to slow breast cancer progression by blocking inflammatory IL1.
· Non-GMO soy products (tofu, tempeh and miso) * not with hormone therapy and caution with oestrogen –receptor- positive breast cancer *
· Brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts) contain glucosinolate (indole-3-carbinol) an exceptional hormone cancer growth inhibitor
· Fibre to feed healthy gut bacteria and control enzyme glucuronidase (that unbinds oestrogen the liver is trying to eliminate which is reabsorbed into body). Taking probiotics is recommended for the same reason.
· Melatonin is protective and so adequate sleep is important (cherries contain it).
· Green tea provides protective polyphenols so do white and Macha teas
· Alcohol has been shown to be a risk factor with the exception of red wine possibly due to the antioxidant resveratrol that may suppress a cancer-promoting enzyme. Strawberries, pomegranates and white mushrooms have same protective effect.
· Regular exercise – walking at a moderate pace for an hour a day is sufficient to lower circulating oestrogen. Rebounding on trampoline supports lymphatic detox.
· LDL cholesterol may play a role in development and progression of breast cancer. Cancer cells appear to use cholesterol to fuel growth so controlling LDL cholesterol is important as it controlling blood glucose levels another fuel for cancer.
· Apples (including peel) contain protective a chemical and good soluble fibre
· Cruciferous vegetables boost the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the liver.
This is very significant because when eaten with cooked meat for example they help reduce effects of damaging HCAs as well as enhancing liver function. Broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and kale are some of them.
· Broccoli sprouts are exceptionally beneficial and other cruciferous vegetables have been shown to suppress the ability of cancer stem cells to form tumours
· Garlic, onions and leeks contain very protective sulphur compounds involved in detoxification of oestrogen and also support the immune system
· Nuts, cocoa, rye bread, Nori seaweed, beans and legumes are beneficial.
· Strawberries and cranberries appear to block cancer cell growth and all berries may block breast cell DNA damage. Strawberries protect the digestive tract lining.
· Vitamin D supports the immune system and is protective against cancer
· Pineapple and papayas contain bromelain shown to inhibit spread of cancer
· Herbs including sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme have anti-cancer effects
· Turmeric (5g) taken with omega oil or fat for absorption is especially beneficial
· Astaxanthin in green leafy vegetables, wild salmon and ethically produced eggs is a very beneficial antioxidant.
· All mushrooms have potent anti-cancer effects including button mushrooms.
· Omega 3 oils are anti-inflammatory and important for detox via cell membranes.