The importance of a healthy diet in preventing breast cancer has been often stressed by doctors and health journals alike. But what exactly is a healthy diet that is conducive to breast cancer prevention? This article tries to explain – in layperson’s terms – what kind of diet is beneficial in preventing breast cancer.
Foods that Help Preventing Breast Cancer
(i) Vitamins of the B-Complex
Independent researches have shown that Boston and Shanghai have shown that a diet that is rich in vitamins of the B-complex is very ideal in keeping breast cancer at bay. The most powerful of the B-complex vitamins for the prevention of breast cancer are the vitamins B6 and B12 or folic acid. Folic acid has been linked with breast cancer prevention in women who are regular consumers of alcohol. Higher levels of vitamin B12 are more effective in preventing breast cancers in women who have not yet had their menopause.
Carrots contain beta-carotene which is a precursor for the formation of vitamin A, chemically known as retinol. A research in New York has proved that women who include carrots on a regular basis in their diet have low chances of getting breast cancers. It has been found that a regular intake of carrots in the form of salads reduces the risk of breast cancers by half in women who have crossed their menopausal age.
(iii) Fish and fish oils
Fish could be the most important foods in the prevention of breast cancer. It has been found that fish oils are very beneficial in keeping breast cancer away in women who have crossed their menopause. Fish oils are effective even with risk factors such as age during the first full term pregnancy, age at first menses, age at menopause, other breast disorders, etc. Moreover, a diet that contains of a combination of fish and carrots is found to be much more highly effective than fish alone. Fish contain the omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids which are good combatants of breast cancer, as they reduce the levels of the harmful omega-6 fatty acids, which in fact promote the growth of the cancerous tissues. Thus people subsisting on a fish diet are also consuming a low fat diet. Fish is known to reduce the cases of obesity. This has been seen in people living near coastal areas whose diet consists predominantly of fish. Obesity is one of the major risk factors of breast cancer.
Several vegetables are identified to be anti-cancer agents. Vegetables such as parsley, cilantro, cabbage, soy, celery and parsnip have anti-cancer properties. Garlic is known to be effective in breast cancer prevention as well. Tomatoes and onions may have mild cancer preventing properties.
Many fruits have anti-cancer properties. Some of these are papayas, oranges, mangoes, apricots, blueberries, persimmons, grapes, lemons, peaches, strawberries, tangerines, etc.
Flaxseeds are slowly becoming very popular in cancer prevention. They have two important ingredients that are known to fight cancer. One is the omega-3 fatty acids and the second is lignan. Flaxseeds in ground form are better than the flax oil, because they contain the necessary fibers which help in easy digestion.
Foods that can Promote Breast Cancer
There are several foods that have been identified to be responsible in promoting breast cancer. The following is a list of some of these foods:-
(i) Fatty Acids
There are some fatty acids that promote the growth of breast cancer, while some others retard it. Generally, the omega-6-polyunsaturated fatty acids are proven to increase cancer risks. Such fats are present in coconut oil and butter. At the same time, oils such as castor oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil or corn oil contain the omega-3 acids which in fact retard the formation of tumors. Hence, the diet must contain more of the omega-3 acids and less of the omega-6 acids in order to prevent breast cancer.
(ii) Red Meats
Red meats are known to cause almost all types of cancers if taken in excess. Hence, in the diet the amounts of red meats must be reduced and white meats must be increased. Red meats are mutton, beef and pork; while white meats are chicken and poultry.
(iii) Smoking and Alcoholism
Smoking is the single largest risk for breast cancers today. Women who begin to smoke early in their lives and continue on a regular basis stand at a much higher risk. Similarly, alcohols are also to be avoided. Yet, recent researches have shown that alcohol taken in conjunction with a folic acid diet may actually help in the prevention of breast cancer.
Sticking to a good dietary regime could be very well the best way to prevent breast cancer. But the importance of physical activity should not be ignored. A woman can go a long way in preventing breast cancer if she takes a healthy diet and couples it with a physically active lifestyle.
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