This year more than 280,000 American women will be told by their doctors that they have invasive breast cancer. More than 43,000 will die from it.
One out of every eight women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. The fact that it is so widespread and so deadly makes breast cancer perhaps the disease women most fear.
Genetics clearly play a role in who gets breast cancer. But studies show that what you eat also has an effect.
Certain foods contain compounds that neutralize carcinogens in your body. And they reduce excessive amounts of the hormone estrogen, which can lead to breast cancer.
Eat to Beat Breast Cancer
Here are five foods linked to lower risk of breast cancer:
- Arugula. Eating this peppery green releases isothiocyanates. These are phytochemical compounds that counteract carcinogens.
A study published in the journal PlosONE found that isothiocyanates not only prevent the growth of breast cancers, but actually kill tumor cells. Another study showed that breast cancer survivors who consume greens with the compounds are less likely to suffer a recurrence.
Broccoli, kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts also are high in isothiocyanates.
- Flaxseed. Not only does the fiber in flaxseed reduce overall cancer risk, the seed also inhibits the ability of excess estrogen in the body to trigger breast cancer.
Flaxseed contains lignans. This is a type of phytoestrogen that can cause the body to produce less active forms of estrogen. This is believed to lower the chances of breast cancer.
Adding flaxseed also decreases cell growth in breast tissue, which doctors say lowers breast cancer risk. Animal studies confirm that lignans suppress breast tumor growth.
A study published in 2011 in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment followed 300 women who had breast cancer surgery. Women who had high levels of lignans in their diet were significantly less likely to have their cancer return during a five-year follow-up.
- Green tea. For years we’ve told you about the health benefits of green tea. It fights arthritis, dementia, anxiety, and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
Green tea contains catechins, which suppress urokinase. This is an enzyme linked to breast cancer.
The polyphenols in green tea neutralize cancer-causing free radicals 100 times more effectively than vitamin C.
Studies have found that in places where drinking green tea is common, there is a lower incidence of breast cancer.
- Garlic. This superfood contains allicin. It stops free radical production and activates enzymes in your body that weaken and kill abnormal cells, such as cancer cells. Studies show a strong association between increased garlic consumption and reduced risk of cancers, notably breast and colon cancers.
A French study found that eating more garlic correlates with a “statistically significant” reduction in breast cancer risk.
- Pomegranate. This tasty fruit contains three powerful anti-cancer compounds: luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid. Studies show they not only prevent the spread of cancer cells, but actually reduce the number and size of breast tumors.
A 2010 study published in Nutrition and Cancer found that pomegranate caused a “striking reduction of mammary tumor incidence and total tumor burden.”
Another study showed pomegranate compounds stop the growth of breast cancer cells in lab tests.
If you’re concerned about breast cancer, particularly if your family has a history of the disease, eating more of these five foods can move the odds in your favor.
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