Cancer is a serious problem in the world today, especially here in the US. It is one of the largest causes of death and well, while some cancers are more common than others breast cancer seems to be one of the most common.
Chances are if you live here in the US you know at least one person who has had breast cancer or who knows someone who has. While we do not know as much about cancer as we might wish we did, we are learning more and more with the passing of time and well, it seems that our diets could have more to do with things than we would otherwise expect. We’ve noted tons of different carcinogens and so forth throughout the years but when it comes to actually fighting breast cancer, perhaps opting for plant-based things overall would be a great idea.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, eating a low-fat diet rich in things like fruits, veggies, grains, and beans could promote breast health as a whole. Sure, avoiding meat, dairy, and things of that sort might not be easy but it might be crucial to making it through something like breast cancer. These foods overall are packed with minerals and vitamins that can really work wonders.
Dr. Axe wrote as follows breaking down some of the benefits of these plant-based foods and which ones are the best options to go for:
While more research is still needed on the effects of sulforaphane and polyphenols on humans with ER-negative breast cancer, switching to a plant-based diet will help you receive more of these compounds into your diet. In addition to providing this potential cancer-weakening effect, a plant-based diet offers a number of other health benefits, including supporting pH levels, helping lower inflammation, and potentially assisting in weight loss. (2, 3) Some of the best plant-based foods include:
Broccoli Sprouts and Other Cruciferous Vegetables. Broccoli sprouts, which were mentioned in the study, contain sulforaphane. Other cruciferous vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, cauliflower, turnip, bok choy, watercress, kohlrabi, broccoli rabe, and radish also contain this compound.
Green Tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, but it’s not the only source. Blackberries, strawberries, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and clove all also contain beneficial polyphenols.
Healthy Fats. This includes oils like virgin olive, coconut, hemp, sesame, flax, and avocado oils. Nuts, seeds, coconut milk, and avocado are also excellent sources of “good” fats from plant-based foods.
Fruit. Fruit is full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and water. I personally recommend berries, kiwi, melon, and tropical fruits.
Whole Grains. Whole grains include quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, millet, barley, amaranth, buckwheat, farro, and more. In moderation, whole grains can be an excellent source of fiber, but be sure to skip the refined carbohydrates.
While some people might not want to give up meat or think even cutting back would be impossible, it’s much easier than most realize. One study actually found that in an animal study it was possible to ‘turn on’ the ER gene in ER-negative breast cancer so that it could be treated more easily. This is something that can be done through a plant-based diet as things like broccoli sprouts and so forth contain the things needed to make this happen. I know, that might sound odd but if it works in animals it could be possible to work in people as well, and with the research already present it seems that is actually happening.
The Mayo Clinic wrote as follows on those who do not eat meat and cancer as a whole:
The natural question: Are vegetarians more resistant to cancer because they don’t eat meat? Or is it because of what they eat instead?
It’s true plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, are packed with nutrition. And research has also shown that eating lots of them is linked with lower cancer rates.
An explanation: Plants produce many phytochemicals (literally, plant chemicals) that may protect cells from damage. Phytochemicals have many beneficial effects, including that they are anti-inflammatory, says Murad.
Another way plant-based foods may prevent cancer is by boosting fiber consumption. Young women who ate the most fiber-rich diets were 25% less likely to get breast cancer later in life, a study found. Other research finds that each 10 grams of daily fiber could lower the risk of colorectal cancer by 10%.
Or it could be even simpler still, suggests Murad. “When people eat a more plant-based diet, they naturally consume fewer calories, which helps to maintain a healthy weight.” Vegetarians are less likely to be overweight, a known risk factor for some types of cancers.
The impact of meat on cancer rates
If it’s all about loading up on phytochemicals and fiber, meat lovers may be tempted to have their steak, and a salad too. But research also suggests a link between meat and cancer.
In one review each additional 3.5 ounces of red meat a day raised the relative risk of colorectal polyps by 2%. Just half as much daily processed meat — such as deli meats or hot dogs — raised the risk by 29%.
So what’s the problem with meat?
Eating more of it has been shown to increase the risk of dying from all causes. A key reason: Chemical compounds created when red meat is cooked are thought to be cancer-causing. Compounds in processed meat also seem to contribute.
The less red and processed meat you eat, the better your health. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, Murad says a good guideline is to eat no more than 12 to 18 ounces of red meat or processed meat a week. Three ounces is about the size of your palm.
To learn more about all of this please take a look at the video below. I for one would be more than content with giving up meat and perhaps dairy in order to prevent or help fight off breast cancer. Things like this can be very scary but if it was the difference between living or not, I’d be all in.