Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Fight Cancer With Food!

Photo by wishuponacupcake via Flickr

Photo by wishuponacupcake via Flickr

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States.  That’s the month when we’re supposed to work to build awareness of breast cancer issues.  I take that responsibility very seriously because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was thirteen.  The time after she was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment was a trying time, but luckily it had a happy ending.  My mom is a breast cancer survivor.

Since my mom is such a strong woman, she quickly moved on with her life.  That’s why I stopped thinking about cancer until my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was in my early twenties.  He was not as fortunate as my mom.  Despite treatment, he passed away three months after he was diagnosed.  At that moment, I again feared the word “cancer.” One family member developing cancer felt like a fluke, but two reminded me that anyone could develop cancer, especially if we do not take the right precautions.

That realization convinced me to research cancer to see what I could do to reduce my risk.  In my research, I found that diet was one of the most important factors that was within my control.  Many studies have shown that certain foods can play a significant role in preventing and fighting cancer.

What foods decrease cancer risk?
Foods are powerful tools for decreasing cancer risk and increasing the survival rate of those that develop cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 35% of cancer deaths are preventable through proper diet.  So, if you want to lower your risk of breast cancer, develop and maintain healthy eating habits, such as eating a balanced diet with appropriate portion sizes.  Now if you want to move beyond the basics of eating healthy, here are 5 foods that you can add to your diet to further decrease your risk of cancer:

  1. Cruciferous vegetables: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and bok choy are known for having a high concentration of phytochemicals, which can protect against cancer.
  2. Fish abundant in omega-3 fatty acids: Many studies suggest that eating cold water fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and halibut may reduce your risk of breast cancer.  That’s because the omega-3’s found in fish oils may impede the growth of breast cancer cells and reduce the production of compounds that promote cancer.
  3. Berries: These fruits, especially raspberries and strawberries, are rich sources of ellagic acid, which is a phytochemical that some research shows may inhibit the spread of cancer.
  4. Tomatoes: Some studies have suggested that several compounds in tomatoes, including lycopene, may stop the proliferation of cancer cells.
  5. Flaxseed: These seeds have been linked in some studies to a reduced cancer risk.  That is probably because they are a good source of lignans, which act as antioxidants.

The bottom line:
Eating a healthy diet that is high in fiber, low in unhealthy fats and full of fruits and vegetables is key to decreasing your risk of breast cancer and many other cancers.  And if you include a few of the foods I mentioned, you might reduce your risk of developing cancer even further.  Being proactive can greatly reduce your risk of cancer and many other diseases.  So, do your part in the fight against cancer by making sure you and your family eat better!

American Institute of Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute

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  2. Maria Isabel says:

    It is always good to be reminded of the foods that are good to prevent cancer. Thanks

  3. […] Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Fight Cancer With Food! […]

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