October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we at P3 want to empower our readers with knowledge to keep you safe, active and healthy. As we honor this month, we want to discuss topics around breast cancer, the second-most common cancer among women in the United States.
Today we want to address the question: what role does diet play in breast cancer?
First, let’s examine the causes of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, specific changes in DNA can cause normal breast cells to become cancer. Genetics can be responsible for this. Some inherited DNA changes, or mutations, can make a person more at risk for developing cancer, which explains why cancer runs in certain families.
However, the American Cancer Society also points out that the majority of breast cancer DNA changes happen in single breast cells during a woman's life rather than having been inherited. What else can cause this mutation? This is one of the questions scientists worldwide are desperately trying to answer.
While we don’t know all the causes of breast cancer, we do know there are certain risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood to have breast cancer. Here’s where diet comes in.
It’s important to note that no solid conclusion has been made when it comes to linking specific diets to breast cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research loosely reports that evidence suggests that minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods could possibly interact in ways that enhance their individual anti-cancer effects.
If fact, the main point of agreement for scientists about diet-related prevention is not about specific foods, but rather about a benefit of a balanced diet: managing a healthy weight. Studies have highly linked being overweight or obese to breast cancer, especially if the additional weight was gained during adulthood.
The American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet that includes 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, choosing whole grains over processed (refined) grains, and limiting the amount of processed and red meats. The Lance Armstrong Foundation encourages a diet containing flax seed, tomatoes, soybeans, foods containing beta-carotene and vitamin C rich foods to lower breast cancer risks.
So, does diet play a role in breast cancer? The simple answer is yes, but we don’t know to what extent yet. Healthy eating may manage breast cancer risk factors and lessen our susceptibility to other diseases.
This month, you can honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by practicing mindful eating. Load up on veggies, lessen your fat intake and aim for prevention, plate by plate.