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Can Eating Healthy Reduce Breast Cancer Risk?



Oct 21st, 2014

Breast Cancer Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. In the United States breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. According to the CDC, in 2013 over 239,000 women were diagnosed, and over 40,000 women died from breast cancer. Certain risk factors for this disease, such as family history, cannot be changed; however, it is often treatable and preventable. Fortunately, there are some lifestyle changes that can be made to help reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute states that the risk of breast cancer has been linked to obesity in women. Obesity is a risk factor that can be influenced by exercise and diet. A healthy diet is important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Current available research by the American Cancer Society shows that a lowfat and high fiber diet may have preventative effects against breast cancer.

Chicken Barley & BowtiePart of eating healthy is selecting the right foods and the right portions. Here are some recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture for selecting healthy foods:

  • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit consumption of processed meat and red meat.
  • Select lean protein choices such as chicken and turkey.
  • Dairy should be low fat and calcium rich. Good options include skim milk and low fat yogurt.
  • Eat at least two and a half cups of fresh vegetables and fruits each day.
  • When meal planning, make half of the plate fresh vegetables and fruit.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products. Good options are breads with whole-wheat flour and brown rice.

In addition, limiting alcohol can also help reduce daily caloric intake and risks for obesity and breast cancer. In a statement by the American Cancer Society, women should drink no more than one drink per day. This advice combined with some of the healthy dietary recommendations listed above can go a long way to help limit and manage obesity and reduce the risk factor for breast cancer as well as other medical conditions.

Author: Kevin Popa, Pharm D. Resident



Thomson CA. Diet and breast cancer: understanding risks and benefits. Nutr Clin Pract. 2012;27(5):636-650 (http://ncp.sagepub.com/content/27/5/636)

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