Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. To demonstrate how dramatically lifestyle choices can impact breast cancer risk, researchers followed for about seven years a group of about 30,000 postmenopausal women without history of breast cancer and found that imply limiting alcohol, eating mostly plant foods, and maintaining a normal body weight was associated with a 62 percent lower breast cancer risk.
Remarkably, eating a plant-based diet along with walking every day may improve our cancer defenses within just two weeks. Researchers attributed this effect to a decrease in levels of a cancer-promoting growth hormone called IGF-1, likely due to the reduced intake of animal protein.
It isn’t only animal protein that may be harmful, but the carcinogens in cooked meat. The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project reported that women who eat more grilled, barbecued, or smoked meats over their lifetimes may have as much as 47 percent higher odds of breast cancer, and the Iowa Women’s Health Study found that women who ate their bacon, beefsteak, and burgers “very well done” had nearly five times the odds of getting breast cancer compared with women who preferred these meats rare or medium. Scientists were able to link the consumption of fried meat with the amount of DNA damage found within women’s breast tissue, the type of damage that can potentially cause a normal cell to mutate into a cancer cell.
Cholesterol may also play a role in the development and progression of breast cancer, as cancer appears to feed on it. The cancer is thought to be using the cholesterol to make estrogen or to shore up tumor membranes to help the cancer migrate and invade more tissue. In other words, breast tumors may take advantage of high circulating cholesterol levels to fuel and accelerate their own growth.
Consuming less meat and more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, as well as flaxseeds, soy foods, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts may reduce breast cancer risk and improve survival chances.
In 2018 I did a whole series on mammograms. Check it out here.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Image Credit: DragonImages / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Breast Cancer
All Videos for Breast Cancer
Fasting Before and After Chemotherapy Put to the Test
Do the benefits of short-term fasting during cancer therapy found in the lab translate into the clinical setting?
Fasting Before and After Chemotherapy and Radiation
Might short-term fasting during cancer treatment minimize side effects while boosting efficacy?
The Role of Kimchi and H. Pylori in Stomach Cancer
What explains the Achilles’ heel in certain Asian diets?
How Much Does Chemotherapy Improve Survival?
If you put together all of the new chemo drugs that had been approved over a dozen years, the average overall survival benefit is only 2.1 months.
How Much Cancer Does Processed Meat Cause?
I quantify the risks of colon and rectal cancers from eating bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meat.
Breast Cancer and the Bovine Leukemia Virus in Meat and Dairy
Exposure to the bovine leukemia virus from meat and dairy (or a blood transfusion from those who eat meat or dairy) is a risk factor for cancer.
Bovine Leukemia Virus as a Cause of Breast Cancer
As many as 37 percent of breast cancer cases may be attributable to exposure to bovine leukemia virus.
Fighting the Ten Hallmarks of Cancer with Food
The foundation of cancer prevention is plants, not pills.
Pesticides and Cancer Risk
Does choosing organic over conventional foods protect against cancer? The effects of pesticides on cancer risk.
Plant-Based Eating Score Put to the Test
How can you get a perfect diet score?