We are what we eat, the old cliché goes, and there’s plenty of evidence to support it: eating healthy foods really can lead to a healthier life. But can food actually lower your risk of dying from a disease like cancer? Diet is thought to be partly responsible for about 30% to 40% of all cancers. But diet alone is unlikely to be the “cause” or “cure” of cancer. Although more research needs to be done on diet and breast cancer, findings suggest that physical activity, a healthy diet (particularly one low in fat and high in vegetables and fiber), and a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of breast cancer or the cancer coming back.
Nutritional Science continues to sharpen our understanding of how the foods we eat may contribute to the development of cancer as well as how certain foods can support a patient nutritionally while in active treatment.
Breast cancer is a complex disease with many contributing factors. Some of these factors, such as age, family history, genetics, and gender, cannot be controlled. However, there are factors that individuals can control, which include smoking, not exercising, being overweight, and their diet.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Turks and Caicos, accounting for 19.8% of deaths in 2013. Good nutrition may reduce the incidence of breast cancer and the risk of breast cancer progression or recurrence. There are many studies in progress to help further understand how diet and cancer are related. We do know, however, that improved nutrition reduces risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease, and also enhances overall quality of life.
Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
- · Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- · High fiber – beans/legumes, seeds, whole grains
- · Include protein with every meal – aim to include plant protein daily
- · Low/moderate fat diet with emphasis on healthy fats
- · Limit processed and refined grains/flours/sugars
- · Drink plenty of fluids
- · Be physically active to help achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight
In the end, although a healthy diet might not be able to cure cancer on its own, it can go a long way toward boosting your energy, your strength and your spirits while you’re dealing with the disease. Eating well should be part of your program of self-care all the time, but especially when dealing with breast cancer.
Having a healthy lifestyle is the most important thing that you can do to prevent breast cancer and to reduce your risk of other chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This means keeping your weight in the healthy range, eating a varied and balanced diet, exercising regularly and limiting or completely avoiding alcohol. Regular breast checks and mammograms are the best way to pick up breast cancer early.
by Lakeisha Wilson