Happy October! In honor of breast cancer awareness month, I wanted to share some interesting facts on breast cancer and raise awareness on preventative measures. I am not a nutritionist, scientist, or a doctor. I am just passionate about plant based nutrition and love spreading awareness on the wonders of a plant based diet.
First let’s start with some breast cancer statistics that I found on BreastCancer.org
- About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- Breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer (besides lung cancer) for women in the U.S.
- 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
Why does breast cancer happen?
The exact causes of breast cancer is still unclear but we do know that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell's DNA. Researchers believe there is a link between breast cancer and hormones. According to the famous WedMD
: The greater a woman's exposure to the hormone estrogen, the more susceptible she is to breast cancer. Estrogen tells cells to divide; the more the cells divide, the more likely they are to be abnormal in some way, possibly becoming cancerous.
A lot of people are scared of soy because of some of the information circling around the internet. Most people believe that eating soy can increase chances of developing breast cancer because soy foods have isoflavones, which are weak estrogen-like compounds found in plants. But I’ve found research that will make you want to add more soy into your diet.
conducted a meta-analysis from 35 studies which reported results of association between soy isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk for pre- and/or post-menopausal women in Western countries. Summary results suggested that soy isoflavone intake has a protective effect against breast cancer for both pre- and post-menopausal women. Conclusion: Pre- or post-menopausal women in the U.S., there is no evidence to suggest an association between intake of soy isoflavone and breast cancer.
If you know me, I am all about making sure I get enough fiber in my diet. Fiber is essential to our health because it promotes a healthy digestive system, lower your cholesterol levels, help you maintain a healthy weight, and high fibrous foods are high in nutrients so we get the additional health benefits.
According to NutritionFacts.org
, Inadequate fiber intake appears to be a risk factor for breast cancer, which can explain why women eating plant-based diets may be at lower risk. "Among premenopausal women, higher intake of soluble fiber...was associated with a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer" which is 62% lower odds. And, when they just looked at younger women, with the hardest-to-treat breast cancer, the estrogen receptor negative tumors, than those eating the most fiber appeared to have 85% lower odds of breast cancer.
So why not add more fiber in your diet?
Exercising isn’t just about burning calories, I mean yes that is a plus, but just being active has a ton of health benefits including reducing our risk of breast cancer. Exercise helps manage your weight and lowers circulating estrogen levels. In one study
, over 73,000 postmenopausal women were followed for 17 years and researchers found that the most active women had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer than the least active group.
Moving your body for a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day is a good goal to set. Whether it’s going for a walk with your dog, morning yoga, or taking a fun aerobic class with a friend!
Our eating habits and how much we move our bodies can have a huge impact on our ability to fight and protect us from diseases such as breast cancer. No specific food or diet can prevent breast cancer however we do know that adding whole food plants based foods into our lifestyle habits can make our bodies healthier and help keep our breast cancer risk as low as possible.
According to BreastCancer.org
, diet is thought to be at least partially responsible for 30 to 40 percent of cancers, which further supports that what we eat truly matters. Your body is a temple and your home so treat it right by eating well.