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Chances are, each of us knows at least one person who has been personally affected by Breast Cancer, it is after all, the most common cancer among women and also, contrary to popular belief, affects men too.

Breast cancer develops from the breast tissue.  

Signs of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, fluid coming from the nipple, red scaly patch of the skin or a change in the shape of the breast.  The risk factors of breast cancer include lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, obesity as well as having an unhealthy diet.  

In most cases, breast cancer is easy to diagnose by microscopic analysis of a sample of the affected area of the breast. 

 Gert Coetzee, Pharmacist and diet pioneer who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About understands the important role that food plays in preventing breast cancer.  Below he shares some hints & tips on how to reduce the risks of breast cancer.

Foods to include in your diet

Cruciferous Vegetables:  Cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients that halt cancer cells from forming and stop it from spreading through the body.  These phytonutrients help your body produce a form of estrogen that prevents breast cancer.  Cruciferous veggies are rich in nutrients that include several carotenoids, vitamins C, E and K, folate as well as minerals.

Tip:  Fill your diet with cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli.  You can cook them in extra virgin oil – this will help your body absorb nutrients.

Extra-virgin olive oil:  Extra-virgin olive oil has a higher monounsaturated fat content than other oils.  It is loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants.  These include squalene which inhibits tumour growth.  Extra-virgin oil also has a higher monounsaturated fat content than other oils.  

Monounsaturated fats are healthier because they don’t oxidise in the body.  Oxidation produces chemicals called free radicals which increase the risks of cancer.

Tip:  You can add extra-virgin oil to your daily diet by using it to cook meat, eggs, stir – fry or just toss some vegetables in it.  This helps make the vegetables tastier.

Fish:    Eating fish such as tuna, salmon or sardines helps reduce the risk of breast cancer.  Fish contains omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation, which may contribute to breast cancer. 

Tip:  You can enjoy your fish with some cooked vegetables or just include it in your salad.

Turmeric:  Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin which is a substance with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Curcumin can inhibit cancer cell growth by decreasing the toxic effects of breast cancer.

Tip:  Add turmeric to rice, soups, frittatas, scrambled eggs, tea, or just simply toss it in roasted vegetables.

Dark, leafy green vegetables:  Dark, green, leafy veggies are loaded with fiber and antioxidants which make them good tools for fighting breast cancer.  They are also high in folate which has been linked to a decrease in breast cancer.

Tip:  The darker the leaves, the better the benefits.  Fill your diet with leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach.  You can enjoy these with some fish, lean meat or include them in a salad. 

Foods to avoid:

Sweets:  A diet high in refined carbs like those found in sweets is associated with high levels of blood glucose which forces the body to release insulin.  Insulin may lead to the development of cancer by encouraging cancer cells to grow.  This is due to a high level of estrogen in the body.

Tip:  View sweets as an occasional treat instead of a daily indulgence.

Red meat:  Red meat contains amino acids which increase oxidation in the body as well as stimulate the production of insulin in the body.  These are both known to increase the risks of breast cancer.

Tip:  Try to eat more fish.

Vegetable oils:  Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, and corn oil are high in polyunsaturated fats have been associated with an increase in cancer promoting oxidation in the body.

Tip:  Replace vegetable oils with extra-virgin olive oil.  You should also eliminate foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil such as muffins and peanut butter as they contain vegetable oils.  Also avoid margarine and mayonnaise unless it is made with olive oil or canola oil.

Processed meats:  The preservatives in processed meat like bacon, ham, and deli meats are believed to increase the risks of cancer.

Tip:  Cut all processed meats from your diet and go for lean cuts instead.

Alcohol:  Alcohol can cause blood estrogen levels to rise.  The estrogen levels in women who drink alcohol is higher than that in women who don’t drink alcohol.  Higher estrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer.

Tip:  Have low to moderate amounts of alcohol per day – one glass should be enough. 

 (Adapted from press release)