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Decrease Your Risk For Breast Cancer

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Article by Belle McCaleb

Use diet to decrease your risk for breast cancer today!

 By Belle McCaleb ND, RN, MSS-C, BSN, RYT Cancer Support & Women’s Health Specialist



Avoid all processed food whenever possible as it is nutrient poor, usually has additives and preservatives and often is high in sugar, salt and bad fats.  This combination is a set up for ill health including cancer. 

Try to get “back to basics” by using fresh and organic if possible vegetables, fruits, grains and protein sources (nuts, seeds, legumes, beans if vegetarian; adding small amounts of lean meat, chicken and fish if non vegetarian). 

Be cautious about grains as some people are best minimising these – this is discussed further below.

Prepare food simply – fresh salads, stir-fries, steamed vegies, baked root vegies like pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes and have at least one fresh salad a day if not two.

Vegetables are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and good fibre so your intake should be at least 50% of your diet with about ½ of that raw if you digest raw food ok otherwise sticking to steamed or cooked vegies (but not overcooked!).

Consider juicing or making “green smoothies” (5 vegies to 1 fruit) as these are a great way to increase your intake of cancer fighting “phyto-chemicals”. If you are a non-vegetarian you still need a plant - based diet – at least 70% of food being plant derived.  If a vegetarian or vegan you’ve automatically got that covered!! Eating a plant based diet, particularly one high in green leafy vegies moves your entire system toward an alkaline pH.

We know that cancer cells are less likely to proliferate in an alkaline environment.



Some foods contain phytonutrients that act mainly to protect normal cells from the damage that leads to  cancer initiation.  These are sulforaphane (broccoli), indole-3-carbinol (cabbage), diallyl sulfide (garlic) and ellagic acid (strawberries).

Other foods contain phytonutrients that block the promotion and progression of cancer such as curcumin (turmeric), epigallocatechin (green tea), resveratrol (red grapes), lycopene (tomatoes), anthocyanidins (blueberries), Omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish/flaxseed oil), limonene (citrus) and proanthocyanidins (cinnamon, cranberries, blueberries). 

Specific mechanisms by which these foods act include inhibition of tumor cell growth (green tea, turmeric, cruciferous veggies, garlic and onion, grapes and berries, citrus, tomatoes, omega-3, dark chocolate); induction of tumor cell death (turmeric, cruciferous, garlic and onion, grapes and berries); and interference with new blood vessel formation required for cancer spread (green tea, turmeric, grapes and berries, omega-3).  Immune boosters include turmeric, citrus, mushrooms and omega-3.



Estrogens, in general, are proliferative encouraging cell growth. Therefore even in the case of non estrogen receptor positive breast cancer it is a good idea to support your body’s ability to modulate estrogen. Foods that support estrogen modulation pathways include artichoke, basil, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, onion, garlic, rosemary, passion flower (tea), chamomile (tea), button mushrooms, flaxseed meal and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil must be kept refrigerated in a light proof container and flaxseed meal must be freshly ground or they will go rancid.



Soy has several cancer fighting properties, however; as it is also a strong phytoestrogen it is not recommended in the case of a breast cancer diagnosis.  In general estrogens’s are proliferative and even in an estrogen receptor negative breast cancer situation it is best to minimise consumption of strong phytoestrogens such as soy until we have a better understanding of their effect. If you were raised on a high whole soy diet, eg tofu and tempeh, research suggests it may be more protective than harmful to continue to eat these foods. This may explain why Asian women who eat a high whole soy diet have lower breast cancer rates.

Dairy has naturally occurring hormonal residue (if not organic dairy hormones are often added as well).  It is also often contaminated with pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals.  Remember the body stores many toxin in fat and dairy is high in fat.  Dairy protein is also frequently implicated in allergies and immune dysfunction. Therefore it is in many people’s best interest to avoid or greatly minimize dairy intake and particularly in the case of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

Small amounts of simple fermented organic dairy (preferably sheep or goat rather than cow as these proteins are less likely to cause immune reaction) such as plain natural yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta and fetta may be ok for those who are trying to maintain weight during chemotherapy and for vegetarians needing the additional protein source. 



Grains are useful for our bowel health and estrogen modulation from the bowel level, but only if the grains are well tolerated. We are overdosed on wheat and the wheat in Australia is very high in protein (this I had confirmed from an Agronomist patient of mine).  Perhaps it is for this reason that wheat intolerances are VERY common and can have a negative effect on the gut, the liver, estrogen clearance and the immunity. Therefore, it may be best to limit or eliminate wheat and use other grains such as brown or basmati rice, corn, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, arrowroot, amaranth and millet.  Many people have developed gluten sensitivity and need to avoid all grains except rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, arrowroot, amaranth and millet.

NOTE: You DO NOT need to be coeliac to have gluten or grain sensitivity.



Blood sugar stabilisation is a critical factor in good health and particularly if cancer is part of the picture.  High or spiking blood sugar levels are associated with the release of insulin like growth factor that encourages the growth of cells including cancer cells.

Watch your sugar intake, ALL SUGARS. 

This includes honey and fruit. Yes they have their own benefits but stick to low GI fruit such as berries, pears and apples and no more than one or two pieces a day.  Do not have fruit on it’s own, better with a few nuts and seeds to balance the blood sugar. Eat some protein/fat combo every 2-3 hours to stabilise sugars: nuts, seeds, lentil or chickpea based dips and vegies, tins of fish, a boiled egg etc as snacks between meals.

Author:  Belle McCaleb - Copyright

... for more information please contact Belle


18 Apr 2014

Article/Information supplied by Belle McCaleb

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.