Friday, November 20, 2009

Breast Health Diet

In the United States breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the most common cancer among women. A healthy diet, combined with exercise, is essential to decreasing your risk for breast cancer and boosting your immune system.

Picture of field of garlic

Eat your veggies: Increasing vegetable consumption will provide your body with powerful phytochemicals. Phytochemicals have numerous beneficial properties that help block cancer formation and enhance immune function. Members of the cruciferous family — including broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts — are especially powerful and produce substances that eliminate excess estrogen.

A toast to your health: Limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day may reduce your risk of breast cancer and help your body utilize the nutrients from foods. Excess alcohol consumption can interfere with the metabolism of folic acid, a B vitamin important in cancer prevention. And excess alcohol also places more responsibility on your liver to remove the alcohol from the body when it could be working to detoxify harmful substances that contribute to cancer.

Spicy food: Add garlic, curcumin and cinnamon to your food to boost not only flavor, but also your health. Studies show that substances in these spices may stop the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the formation of nitrosamines that damage the DNA in breast tissue, potentially increasing cancer risk.

Remember, a healthy diet and exercise will provide health benefits, but this should not replace breast self-exams and annual mammograms. Visit the American Cancer Society website: for more information about prevention.

- Jamie Hunter, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, CD, chair and dietetic internship director in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University


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