Diet and Lifestyle for Cancer Prevention and Survival

Foods That Cause and Fight Breast Cancer

Dr. Kristi Funk, Breast Cancer Surgeon | By NutritiPhysicians Committee | Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Only 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases can be attributed to genetics.

Choosing plant-based foods, exercising, limiting alcohol, and aiming for a healthy weight are four simple steps that reduce your risk of developing breast cancer or having it recur. These steps can improve your health in other ways, by decreasing inflammation in the body and reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

1. Choose Plant-Based Foods

Healthful foods from plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans) lower breast cancer risk in several ways. They help with weight loss, because they are typically low in calories and high in appetite-taming fiber. In addition, high-fiber, low-fat diets can help you gently reduce estrogen levels. In turn, lower estrogen levels can lower your risk of cancer.

Plant-based foods are packed with nutrition, and plant-based diets can reduce the risk of multiple diseases. Even so, you’ll want to ensure you get complete nutrition. To do that, include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans in your routine. And be sure to have a reliable source of vitamin B12 daily, such as a simple B12 supplement.

“The healthiest meals are plant-based, low fat, and high fiber: an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, 100% whole grains like brown rice and oats, non-animal proteins such as lentils, beans, and soy.

Dr. Kristi Funk, Breast Cancer Surgeon

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2. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity, especially vigorous exercise like running or fast cycling, lowers the risk of breast cancer. Why? Evidence suggests that exercise helps with weight loss, and it also strengthens immune defenses, which may help the body kill cancer cells that arise.

If you are sedentary now, it helps to start exercising slowly and build up gradually. Briskly walking for ten or fifteen minutes three times per week is a good beginning. You can then add five minutes to each walk until you are walking for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. When you feel ready to take it up a notch, you can add running, swimming, cycling, or other activities you find enjoyable. (Note: Please talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.)

3. Limit Alcohol

Alcohol increases breast cancer risk. This is true for all kinds of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. Even one drink a day increases risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk. Alcohol can increase estrogen levels, and it can cause DNA damage—the first step in the development of cancer.


4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess body weight increases the odds of getting breast cancer after menopause. Extra weight can also make cancer more likely to advance when it arises. The reason seems to be that fat cells produce estrogens—female hormones that can help cancer cells to form and spread. Being overweight also increases your risk of other problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other kinds of cancer.

What is a healthy weight? You can see how your weight fits with a healthy range by checking your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Find out your body mass index using the Pink Lotus BMI Calculator.

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Dr. Mayfield’s Lifestyle Program is deeply rooted in decades of robust research. It’s a fact that altering our diet can bring about significant changes in our lives. As we age, we become increasingly aware of how certain foods impact our well-being. Some foods provide sustained energy, while others can make us feel bloated and lethargic.

Let’s collaborate to enhance your health and kickstart the natural healing process in your body. Remember, this is a safe and supportive environment with absolutely no judgment!