October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Being breast aware, noticing any changes and getting checked if you notice any changes is the first step for detecting breast cancer early. There are also many risk factors associated with the development of breast cancer that we should be mindful of; some of which are related to diet and lifestyle behaviours. According to The World Cancer Research Fund, about a third of the most common cancers are preventable through a nutritious and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption and regular physical activity.
In this week's blog, we've put together some important dietary and lifestyle patterns that could help to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer and top tips on how best to implement these changes during the month of October.
1. Limit intake of red meat and processed meats
Foods may contain compounds that are protective against breast cancer and others that may have a cancer promoting effect. The WHO have identified red meat and processed meats (e.g. sausages, ham, rashers) as being directly associated with increased risk of certain cancers including breast cancer.
Nutritionist's Tip: Aim to limit your intake of red meat to less than three portions per week and try to avoid processed meats altogether this month. Why not try out new protein sources this month such as tofu, legumes, nuts, eggs, and fish!
2. Include some dairy
Dairy products are high in calcium and there is some evidence that calcium might be beneficial in reducing the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer. Foods containing probiotics (live microorganisms) such as yogurt may also be beneficial in helping to reduce breast cancer risk.
Nutritionist's Tip: Dairy is quite calorie dense so just watch your portion control and avoid those with added sugars such as flavoured yoghurts. Add your own berries or bananas into natural yoghurt instead to make it sweeter!
3. Fruit & Veg
Many studies indicate that a diet high in fruit and vegetables provides protection against breast cancer. The strongest evidence is for non starchy veg like cabbage, leeks, asparagus, broccoli and veg high in carotenoids such as green leafy veg, yellow and orange veg and coloured fruit.
Nutritionist's Tip: Vegetables have fewer calories than fruit so if you're trying to lose some weight, emphasis should be placed on eating more vegetables than fruit. Aim for at least 3-4 portions of veg and two portions of fruit per day!
4. Vitamin D
There is some evidence that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to increased risk of certain cancers including breast cancer.
Nutritionist's Tip: We should all be taking a 10 mcg vitamin D supplement between the months of October to March as we don't get enough sunlight during these months to synthesis it through our skin.
There is strong evidence that consumption of alcohol can contribute to the development of breast cancer.
Nutritionist's Tip: Alcohol also contains empty calories so if you're trying to maintain or lose weight aim to reduce your alcohol intake to a glass at the weekend, put a ban on mid-week drinking or why not try a sober October!
To summarise, the key tips are:
- Eat fresh and unprocessed whenever possible
- Have a varied and balanced diet, including a variety of protein sources.
- Limit alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy weight
Interestingly, in one particular large-scale study, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake and eating mostly plant-based foods resulted in a 62% decrease in breast cancer risk!
At Gourmet Fuel, we make meals fresh and from natural ingredients to give you all of the nutrients that you need to help you stay healthy, maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Why not book in for a consultation with our registered nutritionists to find out more about how to implement these dietary and lifestyle habits in an achievable and sustainable way!