NUTRITION & CANCER
While the body makes cells with defective genetic material all the time, there is a lot that we can do to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. (A risk factor is anything that increases the chance of developing a disease such as cancer.) A well functioning immune system helps to destroy any defective cells formed.
Some traditional diets are associated with a reduced risk of cancer when compared with the western diet.
- The traditional Japanese diet. The most commonly used foods include fish, small amounts of red meat, vegetables, green tea, and whole or fermented soy foods.
- The Mediterranean diet. Once again fish is often used, fresh vegetables and fruit, small amounts of red meat, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and red wine.
- The Vegan diet. This is largely plant based and uses whole foods rather than processed foods. Peas and beans, vegetables, and fruit feature prominently.
Although the Mediterranean diet has somewhat more fat, it is low in saturated and trans fats, which are considered to be inflammatory. The liberal use of vegetables ensures that caloric intake is relatively low. A high calorie intake often leads to overweight and obesity which are associated with many cancers. . The relationship between obesity and cancer is however, complex. High blood insulin levels are thought to contribute to the inflammatory process that underlies the growth of malignant tumors.
A few dietary tips to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer
- Eat small meals
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce abdominal or 'belly' fat
- Alcohol intake should be moderate, if any
- Limit fat intake especially from animal sources
- Increase the intake of colourful vegetables and fruit which contain protective substances called phytonutrients