Diet and Breast Cancer

What you eat can in some cases reduce the risk of certain diseases. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about diet and disease.

What you eat can in some cases reduce the risk of certain diseases. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about diet and disease. A 2013 research study found that eating a low-carb diet two days a week could reduce the risk of breast cancer. The study was a small one and the authors recommended additional research. Additional studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet, cutting back on alcohol, including red, yellow and orange fruits and veggies in your diet, and consuming walnuts can all help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer But how reliable is all this information? What really works? Get Healthy’s Jackie Hays went to an expert at Norton Cancer Institute for answers.

The National Cancer Institute says serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans every year. These diseases include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and some types of cancers. Eating a diet that contains 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle has been shown to lower the risk for all of these diseases. The relationship between diet and breast cancer is that obesity and weight are important because fat cells make estrogen and most breast cancers are fueled by estrogen. While there is not a lot of conclusive evidence to tell us exactly what to do, there may be some truth to eating certain foods may lower your cancer risk. We know that about 10 percent of breast cancers are related to our genes, but the other 90 percent we don’t know what the cause is. It could be something in the environment, something in our air, in our food, in our water that could be causing the cancers. We don’t understand the exact mechanism that causes breast cancer, but it’s usually not just one factor and it seems that it may be more than one thing. The hope is that more research will be done and we will start to get some definitive answers about what we should eat to reduce our risk of breast cancer.

Jackie also talked with the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Deborah Eck, RD, LD, CNSC about diet and disease. She stressed what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages: Americans should be following a well-balanced, plant-based diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low in unhealthy lipids (saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol). Such a diet, if calorie controlled, can be both waist- and health-friendly and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

For additional information about breast cancer and diet, contact Norton Cancer Institute at (502) 899-6888 or visit


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