October is breast cancer awareness month. However, all the pink ribbons, balloons, and iced cupcakes do little to address PREVENTION. It’s interesting that breast cancer awareness month was founded by a chemical company who produced drugs to treat those with breast cancer. You can imagine that their war cry was to get screened and treated. And thank God for screening and treatment. My bestie, Kym Douglas’s life has been saved by screening and treating. However, my war cry is prevention and awareness. Prevention is sadly the part that’s missing from the pink ribbon mindset, and this is wrong.
I saw a TV segment yesterday where the host and the chef were wearing pink (in honor 0f breast cancer awareness), and they were showing viewers how to make pink and white M & M cupcakes. I was appalled! Just seeing the amount of butter, cream, eggs, and sugar that was involved was so ironic. Ironic because almost everything in the cutsey cupcakes would put women at a HIGHER risk for breast cancer. So, that TV segment prompted me to write this post.
Now listen good. Regardless of your genetic risk for breast cancer, you can significantly reduce your risk by what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Toss in regular exercise and you further reduce your risk. This isn’t just pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking. This good news is based on meta-analysis of three decades of large human studies. Truly exciting. So let’s dive in and first take a look at which foods and beverages might increase your risk.
- Saturated fat significantly increases your risk of getting breast cancer. Actually fat in general (that’s plant oils too), increases your risk. So go low-oil, and close to zero saturated fat (coconut oil included), if you want to reduce that risk. Remember that if you cut out all animal products, you will effortlessly cut out almost all saturated fat.
- High cholesterol actually feeds breast cancer cells. Yep – there is a direct correlation between high cholesterol and breast cancer.
- Overweight women are statistically at higher risk for breast cancer. Fat cells found in adipose tissue create excess estrogen in the blood. This may be why post-menpausal women who are overweight/obese, are at a significantly greater risk of contracting the disease.
- Even one glass of alcohol a day increases your risk! Add another glass or two and your risk goes up. While it’s true that there is some evidence to suggest that red wine might protect against heart disease, it does the opposite for breast cancer risk. Drink pomegranate or Concord grape juice instead!
- Dairy products contain trace amounts of bovine estrogen. So aside from the saturated fat increasing your risk, the fact that you’re getting cow estrogen on top of your own, increases your risk. My advice? Find delicious dairy-free cheeses, milks, yogurts and spreads. Thankfully, they’re pretty accessible now.
- Make sure your cookware is non-toxic! Although the jury is out as to whether or not chemicals in cookware are carcinogenic, you’re honestly better off cooking your beautiful organic plant-based foods in good quality cookware that doesn’t leach. The best choice, aside from good old cast iron, is high-quality stainless steel. High-quality is the operative word because you can get low quality stainless from China, and you can get surgical-grade stainless. My vote is to go with surgical-grade, which is made in the U.S. And this is why I constantly recommend 360 Cookware. It’s the best – not only because of the craftsmanship and quality, but because it performs like no other. My 1-quart saucepan is the workhorse of my kitchen. It’s the quickest, easiest and safest way to cook all your veggies, and sides because none of the nutrients are lost. I took one home to my Mum in the UK, and she literally thanks me everyday because she uses it everyday. She’s an amazing home cook, and she agreed that it’s a game-changer. This stunning little saucepan is still on sale (for a very short time while supplies last). It’s normally $150, and they are offering it to my community for just $49.99. But they are almost out. Grab one for yourself and for Christmas gifts too while they still have them in stock at this price.
Now let’s take a look at proactive step you can take today to reduce your risk. This is easy because it’s literally adding delicious plant foods to your diet.
- Go whole food plant based! Vegans cut their risk of getting breast cancer significantly.
- Eat cruciferous veggies! Out of all the fruits and veggies, it seems that kale, cauliflower, and anything from the cruciferous family will reduce your risk.
- Eating soy is perhaps one of the most protective foods that you can eat. There was confusion because the phytoestrogens in soy were confused with estrogen. But they are two entirely different things, with the latter being hugely protective. Many research studies show that soy may be protective against breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Studies show that it matters little what form your soy comes in (milk, tofu, tempeh, miso etc), as long as it’s organic, non-GMO soy. Is there anyone who shouldn’t eat soy? Only the 1 in 2,000 who are allergic. What about soy disrupting thyroid function. There’s little evidence to suggest that eating soy will affect production of your thyroid hormones. The only people who need to be careful are those on thyroid meds. However, it’s not soy that affects the absorption of the medication, but any food. You must take your meds on an empty stomach. If you have a low-firing thyroid, it’s more important that you take iodine, than reduce soy. You can get your iodine from iodized table salt, or better still from sea veggies.
- Flax seeds may be protective. I add one heaping tbsp to my morning smoothie, and shove it into any baked goods or other dishes I possibly can! Sesame seeds are protective too.
- Tree nuts may be protective, especially walnuts. I chop walnuts and add them to my oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods.
- Amla powder may have powerful anti-cancer properties against a number of different cancers, including breast cancer. 1 tsp a day in your smoothie is an inexpensive preventative measure.