Diet for Prevention of Breast cancer

Breast cancer is a complex disease with many contributing factors such as age, family history, genetics, and gender, that cannot be controlled.

Updated: August 13, 2018

Breast cancer is a complex disease with many contributing factors such as age, family history, genetics, and gender, that cannot be controlled. However, there are factors that individuals can control, which include smoking, not exercising, being overweight, and their diet. As diet could be responsible for 30 to 40 percent of all cancers, following a balanced diet rich in nutrients can avoid the risk of developing many cancer including breast cancer.
Breast cancer can start in different places, grow in different ways, and require different kinds of treatment. Certain cancers respond better to specific treatments, where as certain cancers respond well to specific foods. 

Foods to eat:

A variety of fruits and vegetables is important for a healthful diet and may also help to prevent breast cancer as well.
The following foods are considered part of a healthful diet in general, and they may help to prevent the development or progression of breast cancer:

  • a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains, beans, and legumes
  • low-fat milk and dairy products
  • soybean-based products
  • foods rich in vitamin D
  • spices with anti-inflammatory properties

Generally 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended per day. As fruits and vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, they are linked to many medical benefits. The following fruits and vegetables are thought to be good for preventing breast cancer:

  • dark, green, leafy vegetables
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • citrus fruit
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • onions
  • apples
  • pears
  • peaches
  • strawberries

Beta-carotene, found in vegetables including carrots, can lower the risk of breast cancer. This may be because it interferes with the growth process of cancer cells.

Dietary fiber:

Because fiber supports the digestive system and regular elimination of waste, it helps the body to get rid of toxins. There by limits the damage they can do and help protect against the disease. Whole grains and legumes also contain antioxidants, which can help to prevent many diseases. Eating more fiber-rich legumes, such as lentils, has also been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Fiber contributes to the prevention of breast cancer by helping the body eliminate estrogen. Many breast cancer treatments are designed to keep estrogen from interacting with breast cancer cells. So eating a diet high in fiber can support this process and accelerate the elimination of estrogen. Generally 30 to 45 grams of fiber per day is recommended for an individual.

Good fat:

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are called the good fats which are found in olive oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts. In addition omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish such as salmon and herring, can reduce the risk of breast cancer. A diet in which around 20 to 30 percent of daily calories are from fat, with no more than 8 percent of total calories from saturated fat is considered as beneficial for reducing the risk of developing breast cancer.
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish might be due to its ability to reduce inflammation, which is a possible contributing factor for breast cancer.


Soy is consideded as an extremely healthful food source which is rich in protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals and low in carbohydrates. In addition to reducing the risk of breast cancer, soy can also reduce low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, and hence help lower the risk of heart disease. Soy is found in foods such as:

  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • edamame
  • soy milk
  • soy nuts

Foods to avoid:

Cutting down alcohol, added sugar, fat, and red meat are advisable for the prevention of breast cancer.


There is a link between regular alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer. Alcohol may increase estrogen levels and cause damage to DNA cells. Women who drink three alcoholic beverages per week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15 percent. The risk goes up by around 10 percent with each additional drink per day.


A diet rich in sugar can increase the risk of breast cancer. In addition, these tumors are more likely to spread, or metastasize.


Trans fats are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and should be avoided. Trans fats are most commonly found in processed food such as fried foods, some crackers, donuts, and packaged cookies or pastries. However, fat from fruits and vegetables is associated with a decrease in risk.

Red meat:

There is a link between red meat and a greater likelihood of breast cancer. In addition, processed meats and cold cuts tend to be high in fat, salt, and preservatives and hence advised to be avoided for breast cancer prevention.  

Additional Tips:

The following may also help the body to protect itself against breast cancer:

  • Vitamin D from regular exposure to sunlight may help. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as eggs, cold-water fish, and fortified products. Check levels of vitamin D and if they are low, consider a supplement.
  • Green tea is associated with a number of beneficial health effects, including strengthening the immune system and reduced risk of breast cancer. Green tea is a rich source of organic compounds like catechins and epicatechins that decrease the presence of free radicals and lower the risk of cancer. It help individuals in preventing the formation of the cancer cells. As it has powerful antioxidants, green tea has been found to be very effective in treating cancer than the normal black or Oolong teas. Because, all the good elements in the green tea are not damaged during the processing of the tea, green tea is very effective in killing the cancer cells without causing any damages to the tissues. Regularly drinking green tea can kill the initial stage tumors developed in the body. Adding green tea to your daily diet is the best way to not only treat breast cancer but prevent it from developing in the first place.
  • Turmeric is a spice that have anti-inflammatory properties and may limit the growth of breast cancer cells. It is rich in curcumin that helps in flushing out the unwanted elements from the body.
  • Because obesity is a known risk factor for the disease, maintaining a healthy body weight is important for your overall health, and particularly for those who are fighting against breast cancer.
  • Being physically active is as important as eating healthful food for breast cancer prevention. Regular exercise can reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take up sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream, which are then used for energy and maintaining muscle. High insulin levels can lead to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Aerobic exercise, strength training and endurance exercise can help reduce insulin levels.
  • Even regular walking may increase these hormone levels if you are unable to perform vigorous exercise. A combination of resistance and aerobic training seems to provide the best results in reducing the insulin levels. However, any type of physical activity on a regular basis is beneficial. Even if you don't have the time in your busy life, try to involve at least 30 to 45 minutes per day in physical activities.

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