One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer some time in their life. Many assume that genes play an etiological role. “Not quite” says Dr. Hans Diehl of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute. “After all, breast cancer rates have increased by 250% since 1960, and the genetic profile of a society doesn’t change that much in such a short time.” Michelle Holmes, MD, a cancer expert at Harvard University echoes this. “We need to take a closer look at our diet – too rich in fats and especially saturated fats found in meats, dairy, and eggs.” Consuming less fat will enhance prevention of breast cancer and improve the survival time after the diagnosis.
A diet high in fat and in calorie dense foods in general, will contribute to overweight. This, in turn, will up-regulate the estrogen levels which are commonly associated with high breast cancer risk. Reducing extra pounds by eating more fruits and vegetables – high in fiber and low in fat – will reduce estrogen levels and exert a protective role in breast cancer. Just making these simple dietary adjustments will lower the risk by 43% of contracting breast cancer according to the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study. In a seven year follow-up study, those women who ate at least five vegetable and fruit servings a day and were physically active were able to cut their mortality risk in half.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that 25% – 35% of all breast cancers could be avoided if women would shed extra pounds and engage in a consistent exercise program. Eating more vegetables and fruits, will increase the prevention of breast cancer and lower its recurrence.