This year as many as 13,000 women under the age of 40 might be diagnosed with breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women can expect to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It is the most common form of cancer in women, regardless of ethnicity.
You already know that what you eat can be a contributing factor to either developing or helping to stave off the dreaded disease. And just like no amount of SPF will guarantee you won’t develop skin cancer, eating your vegetables is no magic shield of cancer prevention either. But still, healthy eating is kinda like applying sunblock - it may not be fun, you may even hate it, but you know you should do it.
To get started, the fine folks at Dr. Sager’s SkinCare recommend we all should eat more carotenoids, glucosinolates, and sulforaphane to help battle against breast cancer. Why the strange look on your face? You needn’t visit a Dr. Seuss style farmer’s market, you can find everything you want right in the produce section of your regular grocery store. And while you’re there, you can pick up a few other things that may be beneficial as well.
Carotenoids are the organic red and orange (and sometimes yellow and green) pigments found in fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and carrots. Multiple medical studies indicate that diets rich in carotenoids may lower the risk of certain types of breast cancer. Brightly colored tomatoes and peppers are also high in lycopene, which is known to stop the growth of cancer cells.
Glucosinolates are natural chemicals with a pungent smell and bitter taste which are believed to assist in lowering harmful estrogens that are involved in some breast cancers. Crucifers are loaded with glucosinolates, Broccoli is a crucifer. So are Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. You can also get the benefits of glucosinolates from radishes, horseradish, cabbage, and capers. The anticancer effects of these compounds have shown in the cells of animals, but the results with humans have been somewhat less clear.
Sulforaphane is a lovely compound which may reduce the number of breast cancer stem cells and can be found in your crucifers again (listed above) as well as in other leafy greens, like cabbage, kale, turnips, arugula, watercress.
Garlic and onions, and other members of the onion family of vegetables, feature a substance named allyl sulfide, for which some evidence of helping regulate the process of cell growth and replacement has been indicated. That is a good thing for preventing all types of cancer.
Dr. Sager recommends that you sauté or stir-fry vegetables on medium heat for best results (cooking at high temperatures can destroy or decrease the efficacy of some of the compounds). Also, for best results, chop your vegetables into smaller pieces and chew well to help get the full benefits.
Hey, but guess what… It’s not just vegetables that help in the fight against breast cancer. It’s also a good idea to include plenty of MUFA’s in your diet - y’know, monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are found in natural foods such as red meat, whole milk products, and nuts and high fat fruits, like olives and avocados. Olive oil is actually about 75% monounsaturated fat. And walnuts, in particular, have shown to help slow the growth of breast cancer tumors.
Like apples? Well, keep the peel on your apples. Apple’s colorful skin is rich in healthy compounds and science says that eating the peel can help fight the spread of cancer cells.
Some things that are good for you can also have drawbacks too. Definitely go light on the red meats, especially anything processed, such as bacon or cold cuts. And best to eat your steak cooked medium or rare. Various anti-cancer organizations warn that too much can be detrimental… As well, olive oil is great for you at room temperature, but as the temperature is increased for cooking, as with most other cooking oil, the health benefits decrease. Grapefruit, which is otherwise quite healthy, has been tagged as a food that could elevate estrogen levels, which in turn would increase your risk of breast cancer.