Why are we so concerned about breast cancer? Since 1950, this deadly disease has risen by 60 percent and, in North America alone, a woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes. What’s causing this? Experts agree that 80% of breast cancer is driven by diet and the environment, and the other 20% is genetic. So this is a health crisis that we can do something about. It’s not all about your genes.
Diet is the major factor in breast cancer as well as uterine cancer.
The problems with our diets are both quantity and quality. Quantity is important because excess food leads to obesity and obesity leads to higher estrogen levels which feed the cancer. Studies have shown that women who lose weight can reduce their risk of breast cancer. It’s important to remember that body fat can actually be considered an estrogen generating organ. In addition to the quantity of food, the quality is important. Research has shown that the typical Western diet high in poor quality fats – all those omega-6 fats - and high in poor quality meat, sugar and refined carbohydrates, but low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, seeds and fiber, contribute to high breast cancer risks. In fact, breast cancer rates are five times higher in Western countries than in other developed countries. In addition, when people from countries with a low rate later adopt a Western diet, they show an increased rate of the cancer. So the same diet that will help you lose weight, lower estrogen, and improve mood will also reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Phytoestrogens and breast cancer
Phytoestrogens in fruits and vegetables are weak forms of plant estrogens that can help reduce estrogen in our bodies.
One category of phytochemicals that are important for breast health are the cruciferous vegetables which are also known as the Brassica family. They are great on a peanut butter sandwich or in vegetable spring rolls, or on top of a salad
The sprouts have an abundant supply of the enzyme myrosinase that activates the sulphoraphane. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a line of broccoli sprouts under the brand name BroccoSprouts. They are available in Whole Foods Markets and other supermarkets.