We Are What We Eat: Cut Breast Cancer Risk
This letter ran in The Times of Trenton on Oct. 5, 2008.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as women across the nation are pinning on their pink ribbons, they’re also looking to learn more about this life-threatening disease—and how to prevent it. As a dietitian, I think women need more information on how they can make healthy lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The foods girls eat during childhood and throughout their lives appear to have an important effect on breast cancer risk. Countries with a higher intake of fat, especially animal fat, have a higher incidence of breast cancer. The American diet, of course, is centered on animal products, which tend to be high in fat and low in important nutrients. Consuming high-fat dairy products may increase breast cancer risk because of high levels of the bovine progesterone hormone, according to a study presented last December at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
But eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat vegetarian foods could help women in the battle against breast cancer—while also reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. This is information every woman deserves to have.
Jennifer K. Reilly, R.D., is a dietitian with the Cancer Project, an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.