Choosing The Right Foods To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Posted Apr 13 2011 10:43am
Over the last couple of years, we have spent a lot of time discussing the benefits that diet and lifestyle can have in reducing breast cancer risk and enhancing breast cancer outcomes. The scientific evidence behind these possible benefits has continued to grow, showing that some diet and lifestyle choices can have a greater impact on breast cancer and other cancers than other diet and lifestyle choices. The March 24, 2011 issue of the journal Nature includes an article about the complexities of food and lifestyle choices in regards to cancer and our overall health. The full article, The Omnivore's Labyrinth , as well as the entire Cancer Prevention issue are free to download and read at your convenience; however, I have briefly outlined some of the article's points below.
While many foods contain cancer fighting phytochemicals, the effectiveness of these naturally occuring cancer fighting compounds depends upon many factors. This complexity has made it difficult to get a clear picture of cancer fighting benefits of foods. According to the paper's author, there are at least 7 factors that make it difficult to fully understand the possible benefits of foods for cancer prevention. These factors are
Not all fruits and vegetables contain cancer fighting phytochemicals and not all those that do are major sources of these phytochemicals.
Not all varieties of a cancer fighting food provide the same benefits. Differences in varieties, time of year, growing conditions, and more can have a major impact on the cancer fighting benefits of foods.
Our personal genetic makeup effects how much benefit we obtain from foods rich in compounds that help fight cancer. Differences in our digestion, absorption, and metabolism can dictate how much benefit we obtain from these cancer fighting foods.
Gut bacteria differences - different people or populations of people have different types of beneficial gut bacteria and these bacteria are often involved in the metabolism of food phytochemicals.
Timing influences possible benefits. This can be the time when foods are harvested (broccoli sprouts vs adult broccoli) or at what age we start eating cancer fighting foods.
Difficulty getting the right phytonutrients - some cancer fighting phytonutrients are present in only small amounts or present only in foods that can be obtained at certain times of the year.
Taking the whole diet into account - while we can choose healthy foods rich in cancer fighting phytonutrients, other aspects of our diet can impact the benefits we obtain from these foods.
This is a truly interesting article and definitely worth reading in its entirety. It is clear that many foods as well as lifestyle habits can alter our breast cancer risk in one direction or the other. Some of the beneficial foods/phytochemicals mentioned in this story include resveratrol (red grapes), lycopene (tomatoes), soy, curcumin, garlic, and broccoli. Determining the full benefits of these and other foods in our fight against breast cancer is an ongoing effort. Including these and other cancer fighting foods into a healthy lifestyle is a good start to reducing your risk against breast cancer as well as other cancers.