Certain Foods May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Further evidence has emerged that certain dietary patterns may help prevent breast cancer among both women with a genetic risk for the disease and those with no genetic risk. These findings were recently published in the Journal of Cancer Detection and Prevention.

Breast cancer continues to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the industrialized world. Although some cases of breast cancer may be related to genetic causes, most breast cancer cases are not inherited, as only 5–10% if all diagnoses are due to inherited traits. Previous research had indicated that diets high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables may contribute to a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Research continues into dietary associations with breast cancer risk.

In the current study, researchers focused on the role of nutrition in breast cancer risk among women with and without a genetic predisposition for the disease. Researchers from Canada reviewed findings previously published in 1999–2007 regarding the relationship between nutrition and breast cancer and compared data for women with a genetic risk for breast cancer with those without an inherited risk.

Among women with and without a genetic risk for breast cancer, results indicated that fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, fish, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, sunflower seeds, and avocados), vitamin D, calcium, and phytoestrogens (found in soy beans and tofu) may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Meanwhile, a high intake of meats or saturated fats may actually contribute to breast cancer risk.

The researchers concluded that different dietary patterns may either reduce or increase risk of breast cancer, with a lower-fat plant-based diet contributing to lower risk and greater meat and saturated fat intake contributing to higher risk. Further evidence of the relationship between nutrition and breast cancer risk among women with both sporadic and genetic forms of breast cancer may contribute to dietary guidelines for breast cancer prevention.

Women concerned about their risk for breast cancer may wish to consult their healthcare provider about a nutritional plan that may help reduce risk of breast cancer.

Reference: Bissonauth, V., Shatenstein, B., Ghadirian, P. Nutrition and breast cancer among sporadic cases and gene mutation carriers: An overview.Cancer Detection and Prevention. 2008; published online doi:10.1016/j.cdp.2008.01.005.

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