It’s estimated that breast cancer kills 12,000 UK women each year. And with more than 50,000 British women being diagnosed with breast cancer every year, it is important that you take every action to help prevent this disease.
It’s well-established that your diet can significantly help reduce the risk of developing cancer. And growing evidence is showing that eating the right kind of foods plays an important part in helping to prevent breast cancer. For example, some foods, like oily fish, can prevent the growth of cancerous tumours, while others, such as green leafy vegetables, contain powerful compounds that can help fight cancer-causing hormones.
Here are 7 foods that can help protect you against breast cancer:
- CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances, known as glucosinolates – sulphur-containing chemicals – which give these vegetables, like cauliflower, garlic, onions and cabbage, their bitter pungent flavour and strong fragrance. Studies have shown that glucosinolates help prevent DNA damage in cells and may also help induce the death of abnormal cells, which could reduce the risk of cancer.
- DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES: Studies have suggested that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. A meta-analysis that reviewed the relationship between breast cancer and vegetable consumption, concluded that the consumption of fruits and vegetables high in specific antioxidants (known as carotenoids) and vitamins (specifically vitamins A, C, and E) may help reduce the risk of premenopausal breast cancer.
- BEANS AND PULSES: The long-running Nurses Health Study found that the intake of beans and pulses, like lentils and chickpeas, was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Apart from being loaded with nutrients like calcium, iron and B vitamins, beans and pulses also offer an excellent source of vegetable protein, which is especially beneficial when you are trying to avoid or cut down on eating meat.
- TOMATOES: The cancer-busting properties of tomatoes comes from their high antioxidant levels. Breast cancer expert, Dr. Tara Whyand, an oncology dietitian cancer nutrition adviser, says that consuming antioxidant rich foods like tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, which are all rich in the antioxidant lycopene, can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
- OMEGA-3 FISH OILS: In two studies, from the Zhejiang University and the APCNS Center of Nutrition, researchers looked at the anti-cancer effects of omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish). In total 800,000 women participated in these studies and the researchers found that those women who had the highest intake of omega-3, also had the lowest risk of developing breast cancer. The results showed that the women who had the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had a 14 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those who consumed less omega-3s.
- OLIVE OIL: Extra virgin olive oil is filled with antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Antioxidants reduce oxidisation – which increases levels of free radicals that are known to cause cancer – in the body. A study, carried out by the University of Navarra in Pamplona, showed that women who added extra virgin olive oil to their meals had a 62 per cent lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those with small or no extra virgin olive oil in their diet.
- FLAXSEEDS: Flaxseeds contains lignans which are a primary source of phytoestrogens – oestregen-like chemicals found in plant foods. In a study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reported that the antioxidant activity of phytoestrogens make them “strong candidates for a role as natural cancer-protective compounds.” The researchers added that countries with the highest consumption of phytoestrogens also tend to have the lowest cancer rates.
In another study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology, foods high in phytoestrogens were found to have a protective effect against endometrial cancer. In this nine-year study involving over 800 women, those who ate a diet rich in phytoestrogens showed a 54 per cent reduction in their risk of developing cancer.
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Revealed: The 9 foods shown to help prevent breast cancer, from tomatoes to edamame beans, published online, 03.10.15, healthista.com