Best for the Breast: 5 Tips To Reduce Cancer Risk
You, your sister, your aunty, your best friend’s mum, your neighbour.
Just about everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer.
With 53 Australian’s diagnosed with breast cancer every single day and an estimated 19,535 cases per year, it’s really no surprise either.
The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85 is 1 in 7 for women, and while the number of diagnoses is increasing, pleasingly the number of deaths is decreasing.
Even so, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer among the most fatal cancers to women in Australia, with the average age of onset being just 61.
This means that there are a number of Australian women will receive their first breast cancer diagnosis under the age of 60.
The sooner we find it, the better we can manage it.
But the reality remains that prevention, whenever possible, is better than cure.
At OnCore Nutrition we’re here to support you and your loved ones during and after their cancer journey.
Our years of passionate experience in Oncology Nutrition in specialised hospitals and services across Melbourne positions us well to support you before, during and after cancer treatment.
We understand the impact that cancer and treatments can have on the body and have the expertise to select the right balance of nutrients and eating patterns to optimise your path to wellness.
Today’s Spotlight Is On Prevention
Because we also want to reduce the stats.
Fifty three Australians per day is too many.
Approximately 5-10% of breast cancers are due to a strong family history or genetic mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, which leaves an overwhelming majority of cases that are due to other causes, including food choices.
In fact, research suggests that as many as 30-35% of cancer-related deaths are linked to diet (Anand).
So what can we do about it?
The Top 5 Types Of Foods To Include More Often
The foods below have shown some potential for breast cancer risk reduction in those who consume them more regularly…
- Walnuts: these little power houses have been shown to reduce levels of hormones including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which have been linked to both breast and prostate cancer. Include a small handful (25g) each day.
- Carotenoids: found in orange and dark green leafy vegetables and fruit, carotenoids such as beta carotene that contribute to these foods vibrant colour. Put some orange and dark green on your plate to reap the antioxidant rewards.
- Oily Fish:This will help us to achieve the recommended 200-500mg of omega-3 fatty acids DHA+EPA per day as well as providing a source of vitamin D. If we swap out some red meat for oily fish we’ll also do some favours for our bowel. Aim towards 2 serves of oily fish per week.
- Green Tea: The antioxidants found in green tea can protect against cell damage that can contribute to cancer risk. Just be careful if you’re prone to hot flushes as some people find this can be a trigger. And chat to us first if you’re receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Probiotics found naturally in food: There’s some evidence to suggest that probiotic strains L acidophilus (found in miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha); and L. casei Shirota (found in youghrt and kefir) may reduce breast cancer risk.
The Top 5 Types Of Foods To Include Less Often
The foods below have shown some potential for increased breast cancer risk in those who consume them more regularly…
- Alcohol: Go easy on the alcohol. Particularly if you’ve been previously diagnosed with breast cancer as even 6g (1 std drink = 10g) per day may increase risk of recurrence.
- Refined Carbohydrates: When we include high glycaemic index carbohydrates, our body reacts by releasing insulin to help move, use or store the circulating sugars. When our levels of insulin become elevated over long periods of time, we may increase circulating hormones and inflammatory markers (including IGF-1) that may be linked with breast cancer risk. Read more about the glycaemic index here.
- Red Meat: We often talk about these in relation to bowel cancer, but there is research to suggest that a lower intake of red meat can reduce our risk of breast cancer too. Meat-free Monday anyone?
- Processed meats: Bacon, ham, salami, hot dogs. Same as the above. Swap them out for seafood, poultry, legumes or tofu.
- Sugar Sweetened Drinks: The World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of sugar sweetened drinks, ideally avoiding them entirely. Sweetened drinks have been linked to weight gain and excess body fat increases our risk of thirteen different cancers, including breast cancer.
While singular foods like the ones above are important to be mindful of, science has a lot to say about the association between cancer risk and your overall dietary pattern.
Eat less like..The Westerners
Results from various studies have found a link between Western dietary patterns – high in refined carbohydrates, sugar-sweetened drinks, processed, fried and packaged foods, red meat, saturated and trans fats – and breast cancer risk. This link is stronger in post-menopausal breast cancers. The Western dietary pattern was significantly associated with an 18% increase in the risk of estrogen receptor (ER+) and/or progesterone (PR+) breast tumours.
Eat more like…The Mediterraneans
Not only does this dietary pattern include plenty of the ‘eat more’ and less of the ‘eat less’ foods above, but a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in fresh seasonal vegetables, fruit, legumes, with moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy and extra virgin olive oil has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Learn more about the Med Diet here.
If you or a loved one is undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment and would benefit from our support, please reach out today. The oncology nutrition experts at OnCore are here to help and happy to answer any questions you have. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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