What Foods You Should Eat or Avoid to Prevent Breast Cancer

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What Foods You Should Eat or Avoid to Prevent Breast Cancer
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What Foods You Should Eat or Avoid to Prevent Breast Cancer

Prevent breast cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Whether they contain body-boosting antioxidants or powerful micronutrients, these 13 foods are linked to lower breast cancer risk. Plus, find out what foods you should avoid.

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According to flaxseed researcher Dr. Lilian Thompson, PhD from the Unversity of Toronto, research suggests that flaxseed may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Flaxseed contains plant omega-3 fatty acid ALA and lignans, which both inhibit tumor growth, as well as protective antioxidants.

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Oily Fish

A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that women who ate the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish had a 14 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who consumed the least. Oily fish like salmon and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

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Cruciferous vegetables

Vegetables in the cabbage family like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts can protect against estrogen-dependent cancers. In addition to being a good source of carotenoids and fiber, cruciferous vegetables naturally contain chemicals called glucosinolates, which are known for their anticancer effects.

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Walnuts, which have anti-inflammatory health benefits, have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer in animal studies.

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Dark green, leafy vegetables

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli and collard greens are significant sources of carotenoids, a micronutrient linked to reduced breast cancer risk. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed high levels of carotenoids had 15-20 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who ate the lowest levels.

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Red, Yellow and Orange Vegetables

Other sources of carotenoids include vibrant vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and squash. Science suggests eating foods high in this micronutrient may reduce your risk of breast cancer.

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Green Tea

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found the consumption of green tea extract to inhibit two growth factors that promote tumor cell growth among women with breast cancer. The polyphenols in green tea may explain these anti-cancer properties.

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Whole Grains

Research suggests that diets high in fiber can lower your risk of breast cancer by reducing the levels of estrogen in blood. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, as well as beans, brown rice and oatmeal.

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Varieties of seaweed like nori, kombu and wakame are high in cancer-fighting carotenoids. Sprinkle shreds of seaweed on top of salads and soups.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Studies suggest that the natural antioxidants in good-quality extra virgin olive oil may help fight breast cancer by suppressing the expression of cancer genes. The oil is pressed without heat or chemical treatments, thereby preserving valuable phytonutrients.

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University of Missouri researchers found that a compound called apigenin, commonly found in parsley and other plants, stopped or slowed down tumor formation in rats with a certain type of breast cancer. Try mincing parsley on top of your dishes for a healthy boost.

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Folic Acid-Rich Foods

One study found that folate, a vitamin found in dark green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits, can mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol consumption on breast cancer risk, according to the American Cancer Society. Another good way to get folic acid is by taking a daily multivitamin.

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Peanut Butter

A study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment last month found a link between regular peanut butter consumption in childhood and a decreased risk of developing benign breast disease, which is a known risk factor for breast cancer. While it's too early to suggest that peanut butter lowers breast cancer risk, it doesn't hurt to swap junk food with all-natural peanut butter-topped veggies and nuts at the kids' snack time.

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Avoid these foods that are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

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You'd be surprised to find that even a little alcohol consumption can be unhealthy. According to the American Cancer Society, even a few alcoholic drinks a week may increase the risk of breast cancer in women.

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High-fat Dairy Food

U.S. News reports that even as little as one serving of high-fat dairy foods per day can increase the risk of breast cancer by nearly 50 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Foods like whole milk and cream are considered high-fat dairy products.

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Red Meat

Researchers from the University of Leeds found that women who consumed red meat every day had a 56 percent greater risk of breast cancer than women who ate no red meat, stressing the importance of eating this protein in moderation.

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Processed Meat

Processed meats, like bacon, sausage and ham, are also on the chopping block. The same study revealed women who consumed these foods often had a 64 percent greater risk of breast cancer than those who ate none.

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While sugar consumption has not been directly linked to breast cancer risk, eating unhealthily can promote obesity, which is associated with higher breast cancer risk. Limit your intake of cakes, cookies, sweetened cereals, sugary beverages and other sweets.

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All women are at risk for breast cancer; while genetics play an important role in determining risk, other factors like a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help.

What you choose to eat can help you lower your risk of breast cancer. In an U.S. News article, dietitian Karen Collins, who advises about nutrition for the American Institute for Cancer Research, reveals that researchers estimate 38 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States can be prevented with "basic, healthy steps."

Check out the slideshow above to discover what 13 foods you should eat to help lower your risk of breast cancer and what foods you should avoid.

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