Diet and Breast Health

David R Arbutina, MD, FACS

You have probably come across information in one place or another that claims or suggests that certain foods can play a role in reducing a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.  How seriously should you take that information?  Is it fact or fiction?

The truth is there is currently no solid scientific evidence that proves any particular food item can significantly reduce breast cancer risk.  However, diet in general merits attention because of the role it can play in affecting certain risk factors for breast cancer.  One risk factor that can be affected by diet is obesity.  Obesity raises the risk for breast cancer because of how it affects estrogen.  Body fat contains estrogen, a hormone that can fuel development of certain cancers including breast cancer.  Postmenopausal women who become obese or gain significant weight are most at risk.

Consumption of alcohol is another risk factor for breast cancer that can be affected by diet.  Alcohol changes the way estrogen works in a woman’s body.  The higher the estrogen levels increase a woman’s estrogen exposure which is an important factor in breast cancer risk.

Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about guidelines for what would be considered a healthy diet given your unique health circumstances.  A healthy diet not only supports general health it can also help you modify certain factors associated with breast cancer risk.