Nutrition In Prevention Of Breast Cancer

October represents breast cancer awareness month helping to bring attention and support for the awareness of modifiable risk factors and early intervention.

Among Breast Cancer (BC) cases, 5-10% are due to genetic defects, with 90-95% attributable to environmental and lifestyle factors with diet contributing 30-35% and obesity 10-20% (Anand et al., 2008; Shapira, 2017; WCRF, AICR, 2007).

Nutrition can provide anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient benefits that help to slow cancerous cell progression, therefore assisting in the prevention of breast cancer occurrence and re-occurrence. 

Current research marks the following three points as key focus points specifically related to breast cancer prevention pre-and or post-menopause.

1)    Plant based eating or a Mediterranean diet pattern

2)    Low intake of energy dense foods and; 

3)    Maintenance of a healthy body weight, with attention to measures of waist circumference and total visceral fat being well within safe reference ranges

Plant based eating does not mean vegan or vegetarian lifestyles must be followed strictly, as this can be realistically difficult and unsustainable for many. There are also many benefits to still including animal proteins as a part of your daily diet to meet nutrition requirements. Instead, a concentrated focus on increasing plant foods in their whole form daily is highly recommended. Side note, we should be eating >30 different plants each week! (McDonald et al., 2018).

Inclusion of whole-grains high in fibre are encouraged too. For every additional 10g fibre/day, BC risk has been shown to reduce by 5% (Aune et al., 2012).

Certain antioxidants found in food include Vitamins A, C, E (ACE!!) and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein provide anti-cancerous properties by fighting oxidation (stress) at a cellular body.

Our broccoli salad is an idea of a great antioxidant rich salad that can be paired alongside high quality protein and complex carbohydrates, especially legumes, brown rice, barley or quinoa that are fibre dense too! Check out our blog for plenty of antioxidant rich salads or check in with one of our Dietitian’s to trial our yummy broccoli recipe as a side dish!

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On the contrary, certain foods and alcohol consumption can accelerate cancerous cell progression or growth and are pro-inflammatory (rather than ant-inflammatory) in the body and we’re best to limit/avoid! Alcohol contributed to a 35% increased risk of BC! (Carwile et al., 2015; JAMA, 2001)

 Top three ways a Dietitian can assist with supporting the prevention of breast cancer

  1. Optimising overall nutrition and providing tailored eating tips 

  2. Maintaining and achieving a healthy weight and reduced circumference 

  3. Diversifying your diet and communicating the latest research behind breast cancer    

Aimee Boidin BSc. (Nutrition and Food Science) M. Nutrition and Dietetics Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) 

Aimee is based in Wahroonga, Lane Cove and Hunters Hill and can be contacted on 0422 297 721 to further improve your nutrition quality and overall wellbeing.   

Next week: Enjoy a snippet from Heather – Exercise Physiotherapist and Lymphedema Therapist for an article that highlights the link between breast cancer and exercise.

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