Cruciferous Vegetables: These include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy, mustard greens. They contain sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (antioxidants) and helps to convert unhealthy estrogens into healthy ones. No other group of foods currently has more scientific support suggesting it can help prevent breast cancer. For example, a study in China found cruciferous vegetable consumption was linked to better survival in breast cancer patients. Crucifers also help in the prevention of other cancers.
Cherries: Contain perillyl alcohol, a powerful inhibitor of many kinds of cancer. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, which are potent natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. One large study demonstrated that a high intake of cherries and related fruits was linked to low breast cancer risk.
Walnuts: Contain several ingredients shown to help slow cancer progression, including phytosterols, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, walnuts have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, by reducing “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL), while at the same time increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL).
Garlic: Contains a group of compounds known as organosulfides, which have a multitude of physiological effects such as reducing platelet aggregation, reducing blood lipids, killing bacteria and fungus, and stimulating the immune system. Organosulfides are most potent when the garlic is first crushed or diced and allowed to sit 10 minutes before using. Several studies have shown garlic may help confer some protection against several different cancers, including breast cancer.
Salmon: Science suggests that women with increased levels of omega-3s (which reduces inflammation) in their tissues lower their risk of breast cancer. A study done at the University of Southern California showed that women who were postmenopausal and ate a small portion of fish daily were less likely to develop breast cancer than women who averaged less than one ounce a day. In addition, one recent randomized controlled trial showed omega-3s help prevent neuropathy in breast cancer patients. Conversely, a higher intake of omega 6’s – known to increase inflammation – has been associated with increased levels of inflammation in breast cancer survivors.
Turmeric: Contains curcuminoids and other aromatic oils that exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity; as well as protecting against DNA damaging free radicals. One randomized controlled trial, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggested that curcumin supplements can reduce skin damage due to radiation therapy in breast cancer patients.
Soy, such as miso, tofu, tempeh: Contain what are known as phytoestrogens, or weak plant-like estrogens. These phytochemicals are known as isoflavones; and eating soy foods, especially starting in adolescence, can reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, as one study of Canadian women suggested. It’s also important to note that a recent review by the Block Center’s research staff did not find any indication that soy foods are potentially problematic for breast cancer patients (we suggest non-GMO soy foods).
Green Tea: Contains catechins. Research suggests that catechins can inhibit telomerase (an enzyme) in cancer cells, with the goal of disrupting their immortality, and helping normalize cell replication. Green tea consumption is linked to a lowered risk of breast and other cancers.
Flaxseeds: Contain significant amounts of cancer-fighting lignans, which may protect due to their estrogen altering abilities, anti-angiogenic properties, and the ability to reduce the chances of cancer cells spreading. In addition, adding flaxseed to the diet increased levels of endostatin, a natural anti-angiogenic, in breast tissue.
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries: Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries contain a common powerful cancer fighter called ellagic acid. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries contain an abundance of anthocyanidins, which are antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of a number of cancers.