Reduce your risk of breast cancer through healthy eating!

Learn how to use food as Medicine!

Eating cruciferous vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle!    Image: Foodism360 on UnSplash

Eating cruciferous vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle!

Image: Foodism360 on UnSplash

This is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  One out of eight women in her lifetime will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  That number still shocks me.  That’s a lot of women.  In fact, this year alone almost a quarter of a million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  A quarter of million women. And 40,000 will die from this disease.  So I have to write again about healthy eating and breast cancer - it's just such powerful medicine!


I would be depressed except that I’ve come to see the silver-lining in the following statistic: 75% of chronic disease (and breast cancer to me is usually a chronic disease) is lifestyle driven.  The silver-lining: we can ALTER our lifestyles and reduce our risk!  I love that. 


We can eat differently, we can exercise, we can manage our stress and not smoke or be near smokers.  And we can affect our disease-risk profile.  I find that rather amazing.


Have you heard of epigenetics?  Epigenetics is the study of changes in how are genes are expressed caused by changes other than in our DNA.  We inherit genes from our parents but that doesn't mean that we will ultimately develop the diseases that they had.  We've learned that we can turn on and off these genes that may actually increase or decrease our cancer risk or genes that can fight cancer.  Wow, talk about having a super-power.


Just by choosing to eat broccoli or Brussels sprouts today, or going for 30 minutes of exercise, you can alter your gene expression, and maybe slow the growth of a lurking cancer cell or even halt it’s expression.  Since there is so much that I can’t control in this world of ours, I love that I have some control in this.


So what does this practically mean?


Let’s talk food since I love to cook and love to eat.  And I fervently believe that food is medicine. (Thanks Hippocrates.)  Research demonstrates that women who follow a Mediterranean diet – think lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, olive oil, fish, minimal meat – have been found to have a decreased risk of breast cancer. I don’t normally espouse one diet over another.  Afterall, what works for me may or may not work for you.  With that said, if I had to favor one diet, it would definitely be this Mediterranean diet with all of it’s inherent health benefits.


Specific food groups, too, have been found to lower breast cancer risk.  Cruciferous vegetables, for example, are loaded phytochemicals including glucosinolates, and antioxidant vitamins & minerals. These boost detoxifying enzyme activity in us.  Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts for example. In particular, newer research has focused on stem cells for a variety of diseases and in this case, sulforaphane – a dietary component of broccoli – has been shown to potentially inhibit breast cancer stem cells.  Wow!  I think I’ll add some to our dinner menu tonight.