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Jason Baker, DDS



Nutrition and your breast health

August 12, 2014, 1:11 am

nutrition-for-breast-healthAlthough we focus on breast augmentation, breast lifts, and related procedures, we understand that there are many other concerns that women may have about their breasts, one of which is how to keep them healthy, particularly when thinking about breast cancer. It turns out that the foods you eat may have a big impact on your breast cancer risk.

Breast cancer statistics

Before we discuss using nutrition to combat breast cancer risk, let’s take a look at statistics. In the United States, one in eight women and one in 1,000 men will face breast cancer at some point in their lives. In 2013, there were approximately 232,300 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 64,600 new cases of non-invasive breast cancers (called in situ) diagnosed on top of a large number of patients already under treatment.

In the year 2000, breast cancer rates and associated deaths began to drop, possibly due to less pervasive use of hormone replacement therapy, although the link between breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy is still being researched. The decline in death rates from breast cancer may be due to a mix of advances in treatment, earlier detection, and an increased awareness prompting patients to seek earlier screening and treatment. Despite declining numbers of deaths due to breast cancer, it is still the number one cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States.

Enjoy what you eat

There is a reason many people fail at diets — they usually aren’t fun and they feel restrictive. In most cases, recommendations are taken as all-or-nothing suggestions, and require a significant change from our day-to-day food and nutrition habits to an entirely new way of eating. To increase your likelihood of sticking with new food and nutrition habits, focus on enjoying what you eat, and make small changes over longer periods of time.

By making one small change at a time and sticking with it for a few weeks before making the next change, you have a higher likelihood of enjoying foods you already consume while adding in new, healthy options. You are also more likely to enjoy these new additions if you introduce them slowly rather than changing all of your eating habits overnight.

For foods and beverages that should only be consumed in small amounts or in moderation, consider taking much smaller bites or sips, and making the serving last longer. Close your eyes and really taste the food. Take a moment to breath in the aroma before taking a bite or a sip, and let the smell enhance the flavor. By taking longer to eat, you also give your brain time to catch up to your stomach and receive the signal that you are filling up, thus helping to prevent overeating.

Specific foods that boost nutrition and breast health

While no single food or combination of foods is guaranteed to prevent cancer, certain foods and nutrients may significantly reduce breast cancer risk. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that healthy habits, including dietary changes, may prevent as many as 38 percent of all breast cancers.

In general, the American Institute of Cancer Research and the American Journal of Epidemiology recommend eating a diet focused on plant-based foods, reduced red meat, less salt, and fewer processed foods. Such a diet may cut breast cancer risk by as much as 20 percent, and may reduce risk of estrogen-receptor specific breast cancers by 25 percent.

Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want

When eaten in their natural, unprocessed form or lightly steamed, fruits and vegetables are one of the healthiest food options. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they are packed with vitamins and minerals and typically lower in calories than processed alternatives. They are also much higher in fiber, which is necessary for blood sugar regulation, cholesterol control, and good intestinal and immune function.

Eat a rainbow of colors

You may have heard of eating a rainbow before, and it is true. By eating foods in a wide variety of colors, but especially foods that are bold red, orange or yellow, or dark green, you increase your intake of nutrients like antioxidants, carotenoids, chlorogenics, and neochlorogenics on top of a multitude of healthy vitamins and minerals. These nutrients all appear to play an important role in fighting cancer-causing mutations within the cells of our bodies. Eat lots of carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach (although too much spinach may interfere with calcium absorption), kale, and squash.

Eat peaches, plums, and walnuts

Peaches and plums appear particularly well-suited to killing abnormal cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Walnuts appear to not only reduce the amount of cancerous tumors that may grow, but can also result in smaller tumors. Walnuts have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ward off cancer.

Although there are many other factors involved in the development, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer, a healthy diet is a great start in reducing your risk whether you are a man or a woman.

To learn more about how cosmetic surgery may fit into your breast health, including with breast augmentation, a breast lift, or revision procedures, call Kansas City Surgical Arts today at (816) 286-4126 to schedule a consultation.