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Oily Fish Reduce Breast Cancer Risk, What Other Foods Do the Same?

Foods to fight breast cancer

New research states that eating oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, once or twice a week can reduce breast cancer risk by 14 percent. This is great news for women, but what other foods can also help women prevent breast cancer?

How to eat to reduce your breast cancer risk

The risk of breast cancer concerns many women, and for good reason: invasive breast cancer will affect 1 in 8 (12%) women in the United States during their lifetime. However, women can be proactive and help reduce their risk every single day by making conscious food choices.

A new study from the British Medical Journal explains that women who consume fatty fish (e.g., salmon, herring, tuna) once or twice a week can reduce their breast cancer risk by 14 percent. Yet fatty fish are not the only food that can help lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Here is a list of foods that may facilitate a reduction in breast cancer risk.

Beans: Whether they are white, black, red, beige, or speckled, beans are an excellent source of fiber, and foods rich in fiber have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. In fact, a new meta-analysis published in Food Nutrition and Research noted that all the reports evaluated found that fiber-rich foods lower the risk of breast cancer (as well as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer).

Even if beans are not among your favorite foods, you can enjoy them in small amounts or joined with other foods. For example, include a handful of beans on a leafy green salad, stir them into soups, whip them into dips, and toss a few into a pita sandwich.

Berries: Few people need encouragement to eat berries because they are delicious and there are so many from which to choose! Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, among others, are rich in ellagic acid, a phytonutrient that has been shown to help prevent breast cancers. Women should include berries in their diet as much as possible.

Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies: The cruciferous veggies, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and numerous others, have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer (including breast cancer) because they contain a substance called sulforaphane.

In addition, some cruciferous veggies, such as red cabbage, contain glucosinolates, which possess an ability to block substances that cause cell damage and the growth of tumors. In the case of red cabbage and other cruciferous veggies, the brighter the color (whether it is red, green, or white), the better because more vibrant colors have more nutritional benefits.

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It is highly recommended you include as many cruciferous veggies in your daily diet as possible. If these foods are not among your favorites, try including them in soups, casseroles, smoothies, and salads so you might not notice they are there!

Garlic: This is one of the most popular herbs because of its culinary and medicinal properties. On the latter front, garlic and its sulfur-containing amino acids, such as diallyl trisulfide, have been shown to possess antitumor and anticancer abilities.

For example, in a new study in Cell Journal, researchers reported on the antitumor activity of purified fresh garlic against breast cancer transplanted into mice. An earlier study from Wayne State University School of Medicine found that fresh extracts of garlic stopped the growth of breast cancer cells.

Leafy vegetables: The EPIC Italy study, which evaluated dietary data from more than 31,000 women and followed them for an average of 11 years, found that the highest consumption of leafy vegetables was associated with a 30 percent reduced risk of breast cancer when compared with the lowest consumption. Be sure to include leafy greens such as red leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, mustard greens, and arugula on a daily basis.

Mushrooms: Several studies have indicated that mushrooms have a positive impact on breast cancer. In a study from Indiana University Health, researchers reported that a supplement containing extracts from a variety of medicinal mushrooms inhibited the proliferation and spread of invasive human breast cancer cells in vitro and in mice.

Another study of 362 breast cancer patients found that frequent consumption of mushrooms was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Among the mushrooms you can enjoy often are shitake, maitake, button, reishi, and cordyceps.

Pomegranates: These hard-rind fruits possess cancer-fighting ingredients, such as luteolin, allegic acid, and punicic acid. A recent study showed that pomegranate juice both inhibited growth of breast cancer cells and spread of breast cancer to bone.

Turmeric: If you like curry, then you are familiar with turmeric, whose active ingredient called curcumin has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. This spice has demonstrated an ability to inhibit breast cancer cell growth in a number of research endeavors, so spice up your life with turmeric (hint: great on all the veggies mentioned in this article!).

All of the foods and herbs mentioned provide endless menu possibilities, alone or in combination. Along with oily fish—or even without it--women can help fight breast cancer at every meal when they select from these food choices.

Ebrahimi M et al. Purified protein fraction of garlic extract modulates cellular immune response against breast transplanted tumors in BALB/c mice model. Cell Journal 2013 Spring; 15(1): 65-75
Hong SA et al. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. International Journal of Cancer 2008 Feb 15; 122(4): 919-23
Jiang J et al. BreastDefend prevents breast-to-lung cancer metastases in an orthotopic animal model of triple-negative human breast cancer. Oncology Reports 2012 Oct; 28(4): 1139-45
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Modem S et al. Fresh garlic extract induces growth arrest and morphological differentiation of MCF7 breast cancer cells. Genes & Cancer 2012 Feb; 3(2): 177-86
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Zheng J-S et al. Intake of fish and marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of breast cancer: meta-analysis of data from 21 independent prospective cohort studies. BMJ 2013; 346

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