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How does Diet impact Breast Cancer Risk?

Many people mistakenly believe that breast cancer is a hereditary disease. Truth be told, only about 5 to 10 percent of all the breast cancer cases registered across the world develop from gene mutation passed on from one generation to the other. The rest 90-95 percent cases develop cancer due to their altered lifestyle choices, consumption of unhealthy foods and their overall fitness regime.

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While lifestyle and fitness play an important role in defining a person’s exposure to developing a disease as chronic as breast cancer, diet, definitely carries more weightage here. According to a report published by one of the leading cancer associations of the world, nearly 30 to 40 percent of breast cancer cases registered every year showcased an altered and unhealthy diet as their primary reason behind developing the disease.

Medical practitioners and breast cancer specialists state that eating a healthy diet that contains foods which can make your body stay as healthy as possible and boost your immune system, can significantly lower your chances of developing breast cancer symptoms. At the same time, researchers prove that breast cancer is less prevalent in countries where their typical diet is low in fat content (polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat) and more plant-based. Adding a lot of fruits, vegetables, and legumes to your diet can reduce the risk to a considerable level. But knowing how much vegetables and fruits you must ideally consume on a daily basis in order to offset the risk is equally important.

Steps You Can Take

Plenty of fruits and vegetables

Most physicians and dietitians agree to the fact that a plant-based diet is healthier than one with a lot of animal products. This is because the former has a lower fat content and is high in fiber as compared to the latter. Have about 5 cups of fruits and vegetables in a day (in any form).

  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables: Healthy eating is the key to reducing the risk of developing breast cancer. Add carrots, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, honeydew melon, apples, oranges, and watermelon to your diet. Put some eggplant and asparagus into your food chart too.
  • Add some mushrooms, onions, or chopped squash to your spaghetti pasta and enjoy a healthy meal. The more vegetables the merrier!
  • Eat more of tomatoes, either raw in sandwiches and salads or prepare a good salsa sauce or juice and relish with a meal. Cooked tomatoes on the other hand, are equally healthy. Cooking actually enhances their nutritional value.
  • Eat an entire fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. This is because a whole fruit has more fibre content, less calories, and it also increases the feeling of fullness. Dried fruits, on the other hand,have equally the same or more amount of fiber as fresh fruits. So, choose any!
  • Prefer adding organic baby carrots and celery to your diet as they are really healthy options.
  • Throw some spinach into your soups and stews. It contains a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron.
  • Grapes and berries are great additions too. Prepare smoothies and relish once a week.

Limit Fat Intake

As a part of a healthy diet, try not to consume more than 30 grams of fat per day. Avoid foods that contain Trans fats such as cookies, crackers, fried foods, snack foods, pastries and other baked foods.

  • Try and eat less of salad dressing. Or if you do, make sure about using a non-fat or low-fat dressing.
  • Chicken broth and vegetable stock are a better option than margarine.
  • Eliminate foods which are high in fat content, especially if they have trans fats.
  • Avoid eating cold cuts and processed meats as they are usually quite high in fat, salt, and other preservatives.
  • Opt for lean cuts of meat and fish and trim fat before consumption.
  • Make sure of removing the skin from fish and poultry foods.

Reduce the Intake of Red Meat

Many pieces of research suggest that there’s a strong connection between eating red meat and breast cancer. Processed meats have high fat content, salt and nitrate levels which are considered as major factors that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. And, beef here is no exception. If you’re too keen on keeping red meat as a part of your diet, it’s best to limit its intake.

  • Replace beef and pork with fish and lamb.
  • Have an omelet for dinner than a rich meat meal.
  • Add beans or lentils to your main dish while reducing meat content.
  • Have chicken only once in a week.
  • Try eating non-nitrate turkey bacon over regular pork bacon.

Add Healthy Choices

Adding healthy choices to your diet can significantly reduce your risk to breast cancer and many dietary related issues as well.

  • Switch to skimmed milk:Skimmed milk is a healthier option than whole milk. However, if you’re used to drinking whole milk, mix some skimmed milk in it. This will help you ease through the change.
  • Avoid having smoked, pickled and salt-cured foods. This is because, they contain lots of salt and nitrates, and cause hypertension.
  • Have small portions of lean meat (of about 6 ounces) and poultry per day.
  • Bake or broil food instead of frying. This is because, baking and broiling decreases the amount of calories present in the food.
  • Add low-calorie foods to your meal. Fill about two-third of your plate with fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, and the rest with meat and/or dairy products. Spinach lasagna, steamed or sautéed vegetables and vegetarian chilies are great low calorie meals.
  • Switch to healthy snacks. Try adding more of organic baby carrots, fat-free yogurt, bell pepper strips, orange sections and a handful of dried fruits to your diet plan.
  • Consider buying organic food items only. More and more studies are proving that organic foods are the healthiest options. Their natural nutritional content is very good for the body’s immunity, metabolism and overall functionality. Chemical based foods, though a cheaper option, can cause many health problems, including breast cancer to develop.


About Rohit Shetty

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