Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death amongst American woman and a female’s odds of developing it is a whopping 1 in 8. Although there is likely no single answer to what causes breast cancer, natural cancer prevention steps such as increasing exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight can help to reduce your risk. Recent research suggests that consuming a whole foods based diet, and emphasizing certain nutrient-dense raw foods can also help to lower your breast cancer risk.
Breast Cancer and Diet Research
A team of scientist led by Dr. Sarah Brennan of Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, pooled together the results of 18 separate breast cancer studies and analyzed them to see if they could find a correlation between diet and breast cancer. Although the meta-analysis did not examine the specific effects of consuming raw foods, it did find that a woman can lower her risk of developing breast cancer by 11%, simply by consuming a “prudent diet” high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 10, 2010).
A whole food, plant-based diet likely protects against breast cancer for a variety of reasons. Firstly, consuming this sort of diet will encourage a healthy body weight, and there is a strong correlation between excess body fat and increased breast cancer risk. Secondly, these foods are naturally high in fiber, and fiber helps to lower breast cancer risk by binding to and eliminating excess estrogens from the body. Finally, whole foods are high in a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals which are associated with a decreased breast cancer risk.
Why Raw is Better
Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains raw (i.e. sprouted) is beneficial because cooking them reduces their antioxidant levels and destroys a vast variety of the other cancer fighting nutrients contained within them.
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If you are going to alter your diet to include more raw foods as part of a natural cancer prevention protocol, consider emphasizing the following breast cancer fighting superfoods:
Consuming fresh, raw berries daily is an easy and delicious method of natural cancer prevention. According to a study conducted at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, at Georgetown University, the polyphenols found in berries help to not only reduce breast cancer risk, they may also help to reduce breast tumor size and growth rate and decrease breast cancer treatment-associated mortality.
The ability of berries to lower breast cancer risk and breast cancer related deaths, is thought to be twofold. Firstly, berries contain a special antioxidant compound called polyphenols which help to prevent free radical damage to cells and DNA. Secondly, phytochemicals found in berries appear to help reduce estrogens in the body and excess estrogens are strongly correlated with increased breast cancer risk.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, dandelion, broccoli, collard and Swiss chard are extremely nutrient dense. They contain fiber, the vitamins A, C, K and folate, and the minerals iron and calcium. In addition, these leafy greens are rich in chlorophyll, which helps to prevent cancer by blocking the metabolism of carcinogens, which are cancer causing chemicals.
Sprouted Seeds, Grains and Beans
Sprouting seeds, grains and beans will allow you to consume them raw and it substantially increases the vitamin, mineral, amino acid and essential fatty acid content of them. Sprouting also increases natural enzymes which make the nutrients more bioavailable. Finally, sprouted grains contain the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, which helps to protect against breast cancer by encouraging healthy cell division.