Cut Breast Cancer Risk with Low-Fat Foods
Concerned about breast cancer prevention but don't know what to do beyond monthly self-exams and annual mammograms? A healthy place to start is by controlling dietary fat intake.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that diet comes second only to smoking as the most influential and controllable risk factor for breast cancer. Too much fat intake has been found to cause molecular damage to breast cells, which can lead to cancer. Several studies have shown a 50 percent increase in breast cancer risk among women who consume high amounts of fat. Dozens of studies from around the world indicate that cultures with plant-based diets have a markedly lower incidence of breast cancer than populations that eat animal protein-based diets such as the United States.
Women can start controlling their fat intake by keeping a lookout for saturated fats. Saturated fats are found in coconut and palm oils, meats, dairy products and processed foods such as cookies, crackers and, surprisingly, canned soups. "Saturated fats oxidize into free radicals, substances which can cause cancer," says Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., a Tuscon, Ariz., physician and author of The Pain Cure (Warner Books, 2000) and Brain Longevity (Warner Books, 2000).
Instead of eating saturated fats, eat foods that contain monounsaturated fats. These are found in avocados, olive oil and canola oil, which have no known association with breast cancer. Also, cut down on animal protein in favor of soy-based foods, such as tofu, tempeh, soy cheese and soy nuts. These contain a healthier kind of fat as well as phytoestrogens, which some researchers believe may promote protective effects on breast and other tissues in a woman's body.