To manage breast cancer risk effectively, it’s necessary to manage dietary and lifestyle factors from early on in life, some might say even before conception. A plethora of studies show that Western society has gone off track when it comes to nutritional intake and physical activity. Highly processed, sugary foods, too little fresh fruit and vegetables, and poor quality protein has created a population addicted to a diet that frequently facilitates DNA damage resulting in inflammatory outcomes and cancer initiation.
The driving factors behind breast cancer, apart from genetic disposition include:
Intake before the first child is strongly linked to breast cancer risk in later years. Ongoing unrestrained alcoholic consumption (binge drinking) is associated with significantly increased risk.
Level of physical activity
Low levels of exercise are strongly linked to many conditions, particularly those of metabolic origin and most cancers.
Poor diet at any age presents a hugely increased risk for developing breast cancer.
Half of all breast cancers can be prevented
Even if women have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, it’s no certainty that cancer will develop. In fact, only 5% of all cancers are due to genetics. Good diet and healthy lifestyle mitigates much of the genetic risk by optimising cellular function and replication.
So what constitutes a healthy diet? Low refined carbohydrates, high in fresh (preferably organic) vegetables and fruit. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts) are especially good for women of all ages, as they contain compounds known as isothiocyanates, which regulate oestrogen receptor activity in breast tissue and promote detoxification and excretion of excess hormones by the liver.
Protect children before DNA damage occurs
“Too young” doesn’t exist when it comes to protecting the next generation from cancer. It’s a modern illness, brought about by toxin exposure, poor diet and our modern, sedentary lifestyle. Ideally, cancer protection should start well before the point of conception. The quality of DNA contained within reproductive cells is indicative of the DNA quality of the offspring.
Just as damage occurs to other cells of the body through exposure to the environment, it also damages the very fragile egg and sperm. Optimising diet, lifestyle and social factors from the get-go limit the chances for DNA damage to occur.
 Alshuler, L. Integrative strategies for supporting patients with breast cancer. July 2014, Powerpoint presentation.
Photo credit: linh.ngan / Foter / CC BY