Is There A Diet To Help Prevent Breast Cancer?


UPDATED: Wednesday May 1, 2013 9:00 AM

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Giant Eagle and Market District

The reaction to a discussion on breast cancer is likely to be an internal fear, even if you are a survivor or far removed.  Cancer can strike anyone at any age but has a track record that we can trace.  Females over 40 are the prime target with women over 70 as having the highest risk.   According to the Susan G  Komen Foundation, 95% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. are age 40 or older. 

There are genetic links meaning that if an immediate member of your family had breast cancer, you need to talk with your medical doctor about your own risk and be screened regularly.

But unlike heart disease and diabetes where diet and lifestyle are major risk and control factors, cancer has more questions than answers.  Healthful eating is important but has not been proven to be a cure or absolute prevention. Here are some lifestyle factors to consider.

•    Controlling your weight and weight gain are major factors.  Research indicates this is especially important after menopause in women, a time when weight gain may become an issue.  Losing weight after menopause seems to help lower the risk.  The goal is to balance the calories you need for a health-promoting diet with those you burn in exercise and activity.
•    Adding regular exercise and physical activity is an ongoing concern. The benefits of exercise and activity for weight control are obvious reasons to stay active at all ages. The potential effect on mood is under study and may have special meaning to survivors of breast cancer.  
•    Limiting alcohol consumption is a control of a potential risk factor. Alcohol may have an effect on estrogen levels and is added calories that can contribute to weight gain.  Moderation is the guide.  (for women 1 drink or less per day  4-5 ounces of wine or 1 beer).
•    Reaching a goal amount of fruits and vegetables is the basis for the Fruits and Vegetables More Matters  campaign with a minimum of at least  5 servings a day. These foods are naturally  low in fat and are sources of plant nutrients which can be of benefit to building the body’s defenses.
•    Aiming for a heart-healthy approach to eating that is low in fat especially saturated fat and includes fruits, vegetables and grains (especially whole grains), fits the recommendations for those looking to reduce risks or  move along a successful road to recovery.
    
The question of soy, a quality protein with heart-healthy appeal, is one that needs to be discussed with your medical doctor and a registered dietitian.  The age where soy foods are introduced and the forms used are factors that need to be sorted out based on personal health history.  Soy is a source of plant estrogens, a concern for some people who are survivors or at risk for cancer. Evidence is mixed but leans towards including reasonable amounts of whole soy foods like edamame (soy beans), tofu, soy beverages but limiting the amount of  more processed or isolated forms.

Giant Eagle is a proud sponsor of efforts of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to raise awareness and work toward a cure.  For more information contact nurtrition@gianteagle.com.

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