Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. To demonstrate how dramatically lifestyle choices may impact breast cancer risk, researchers followed about 30,000 postmenopausal women with no history of breast cancer for about seven years. Limiting alcohol, eating mostly plant foods, and maintaining a normal body weight was associated with a 62 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
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 (meat, egg white, and dairy) protein.
What about carcinogens in cooked meat? Women who eat more grilled, barbecued, or smoked meats over their lifetimes may have as much as 47 percent higher odds of breast cancer.
Consumption of animal-based products have also been implicated in earlier onset of puberty for girls, which had begun when girls were on average 16 or 17 until the 20th century, but now we see significant numbers of girls starting to grow breasts before they’re 8 years old, and increased risk of infertility.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), potentially the most common hormonal abnormality among young women in the United States and a common cause of infertility, menstrual dysfunction, and excess facial and body hair—may also be affected by diet. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) may contribute to the cause of PCOS and infertility. So, in addition to not smoking, we should decrease consumption of foods high in protein and fat, and rich in AGEs, such as meat, cheese, and egg yolks, and increase intake of foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, herbs, and spices.
Plant-based diets appear to offer relief from a variety of menstrual symptoms, including bloating and breast pain (cyclical mastalgia), and women suffering with dysmenorrhea—painful, crampy periods—who switch to a plant-based diet experience significant relief in menstrual pain intensity and duration.
Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Women's Health
All Videos for Women's Health
Exclusion Diets for Eczema
Infants of mothers randomized to cut out eggs, milk, and fish were significantly less likely to have eczema even years later.
Does A2 Milk Carry Less Autism Risk?
The casomorphins in bovine milk appear to have opposite effects than that from human breast milk on infant development, but what about A2 cow’s milk?
Autism & Casein from Cow’s Milk
Casomorphins—breakdown products of the milk protein casein with opiate-like activity—may help explain why autism symptoms sometimes improve with a dairy-free diet.
Are Avocados Healthy?
Avocado consumption can improve artery function, but what effect might guacamole have on cancer risk?
The Best Food for Fibroids
Women with uterine fibroids should consider adding green tea to their daily diet, as a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled interventional trial suggests it may help as well as surgery.
The Best Diet for Fibroids
The same diet that helps regulate hormones in women may also reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting pollutants.
Is it Worth Getting Annual Health Check-Ups?
What are the risks and benefits of getting an annual check-up from your doctor?
Best Foods for Autism
The sulforaphane found in five cents’ worth of broccoli sprouts is found to benefit autism in a way no drug ever has in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Are Lectins in Food Good or Bad for You?
Might lectins help explain why those who eat more beans and whole grains have less cancer?
Lead Contamination in Hot Sauces
Given the lead contamination found in chili-containing candies imported from Mexico, 25 hot sauces were tested for heavy metals.
How Much Arsenic in Rice is Too Much?
Strategies to reduce arsenic exposure from rice.
Arsenic in Rice Milk, Rice Krispies, & Brown Rice Syrup
I recommend people switch away from using rice milk.