Many factors affect your cancer risk, including lifestyle and genetics. Find out which foods and drinks may help reduce or increase your risk of breast cancer. Also learn about chemicals like parabens and pesticides.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with 1 in 8 women in the United States developing invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. It also occurs in men, but breast cancer in men accounts for less than 1% of all cases (1, 2).
DNA damage and genetic mutations can cause breast cancer. Inheriting certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increases the risk of obesity (1, 3).
Lifestyle also plays an important role. Smoking, estrogen exposure, excessive alcohol consumption, and a Western diet high in processed foods are all associated with breast cancer risk ( 4 , 5 , 6 ).
Other diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. In addition, certain foods can protect against this disease (7, 8).
In addition to 12 foods that may help lower your risk of breast cancer, here are a few foods to avoid.
Foods that reduce the risk of breast cancer
Remember that many factors contribute to the development of breast cancer. Improving your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of cancer, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Even with a nutrient-dense diet, you still need to get screened for breast cancer. After all, early detection and diagnosis can dramatically increase survival rates. Consult a professional about breast cancer screening.
However, studies have shown that these foods can lower your risk of disease.
- Leafy green vegetables
These are just a few of the leafy green vegetables that may have anti-cancer properties.
Leafy green vegetables contain carotenoid antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Higher blood levels of these antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer ( 8Trusted Source ).
A 2012 analysis of 8 studies involving 7,011 women found that those with higher levels of carotenoids had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women with lower levels ( 9Trusted Source ).
Similarly, a large 2015 study linked higher blood levels of total carotenoids to an 18-28% lower risk of breast cancer, as well as a lower risk of recurrence and death in breast cancer survivors. This study followed 32,826 women over 20 years (10 trusted sources).
Some studies have found that folic acid, a B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, may help protect against breast cancer. More research is being done on whether folic acid has a positive or negative effect on breast cancer risk. More research is needed (11).
- Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and cauliflower may help reduce the risk of breast cancer (12).
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate compounds, which your body can convert into molecules called isothiocyanates. These have significant anti-cancer potential (13).
A study of 1,493 women in South China found that high total consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer (14).
- Allium vegetables
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Garlic, onions, and leeks are all allium vegetables. They boast a variety of nutrients, including organosulfur compounds, flavonoid antioxidants, and vitamin C. These may have potent anticancer effects (15).
A study of 660 Puerto Rican women found that high consumption of garlic and onion reduced the risk of breast cancer ( 16Trusted Source ).
Similarly, a study of 582 Iranian women found that high consumption of garlic and leeks was protective against breast cancer. Consuming large amounts of raw onions may have a mild protective effect. Interestingly, a study found that high consumption of cooked onions was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (15).
Therefore, more research is needed on onion and breast health.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits contain:
Citrus fruits and their peels are rich in compounds that protect against breast cancer, including:
beta cryptoxanthin, beta carotene z