Breast Cancer and Diet: 10 Foods to Eat (and a Few to Avoid) -

Breast Cancer and Diet: 10 Foods to Eat (and a Few to Avoid)

Jared G. Cooley
Written by Jared G. Cooley

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. In the United States, 1 in 8 women has invasive breast cancer. Although male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases, it even occurs in men.

DNA damage and genetic mutations can cause this disease. Inheriting specific genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, also increases the risk of obesity.

Lifestyle also plays a vital role. Studies have linked heavy drinking, smoking, exposure to estrogen, and specific dietary patterns (including processed foods rich in western food) with increased breast cancer risk.

It is worth noting that research has linked other diets such as the Mediterranean diet to lower breast cancer risk. Also, certain foods can even prevent this disease.

Here are ten foods that can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer and some foods that can be avoided

Foods that may reduce breast cancer risk

Remember that many factors are related to the development of breast cancer. Although improving diet can improve overall health and reduce cancer risk, this is only one problem.

Even if you eat a healthy diet, you still need regular breast cancer screenings such as mammograms and manual examinations. After all, early detection and diagnosis can significantly improve survival. Ask your healthcare provider about breast cancer screening recommendations.

Nonetheless, research suggests that these foods may reduce your risk of this disease.

  1. Green leafy vegetables
    Kale, arugula, spinach, mustard, and beets are just a few of the leafy green vegetables that may have cancer-fighting properties.
Close-up of vegetable composition

Green leafy vegetables contain carotenoid antioxidants, including β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Their higher blood concentration can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

A review of 8 studies of more than 7,000 people found that women with higher carotenoid levels have a significantly lower chance to get breast cancer than women with lower levels.

Similarly, a follow-up study of more than 32,000 women showed that higher levels of total carotenoids in the blood were associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk by 18-28% and reduced breast cancer recurrence and death.

  1. Citrus fruits
    Citrus fruits are full of compounds that may prevent breast cancer, including folic acid, vitamin C, and carotenoids (such as β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene), and flavonoid antioxidants (such as quercetin, hesperetin, and Naringenin).

These nutrients provide antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Research shows that citrus fruits are associated with a reduced risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. A review of six studies of more than 8,000 people correlated higher citrus intake with a 10% reduction in breast cancer risk.

Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines.

  1. Fatty fish
    Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, are known for their impressive health benefits. Their omega-3 fats, selenium, and antioxidants (such as canthaxanthin) may have anti-cancer effects (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

Some studies have shown that eating more fatty fish may significantly reduce your risk of breast cancer.

An extensive analysis of 26 studies of 883,000 people found that those who consumed the most Omega-3s had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who consumed the least Omega-3s (17 ).

  1. Berry
    Regular consumption of berries may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

The antioxidants of berries, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, have been shown to prevent cell damage and cancer cells’ development and spread.

It is worth noting that a study of 75,929 women linked a higher intake of berries (especially blueberries) with a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer.

  1. Fermented food
    Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut contain probiotics and other nutrients to prevent breast cancer.

A review of 27 studies linked fermented dairy products (such as yogurt and kefir) with reduced breast cancer risk in Western and Asian populations.
Animal studies have shown that this protective effect is related to the immune enhancement effect of certain probiotics.

  1. Allium vegetables
    Onion vegetable Garlic, onion, and leeks are all allium vegetables with various nutrients, including organic sulfur compounds, flavonoid antioxidants, and vitamin C. They may have potent anti-cancer properties.
    A study conducted among 660 women in Puerto Rico linked high consumption of garlic and onions to reduce breast cancer risk. Similarly, a survey of 285 women found that large amounts of garlic and chives can prevent breast cancer. However, studies have pointed out a positive correlation between many cooked onions and breast cancer.

7. Peaches, apples, and pears
Fruits-especially peaches, apples, and pears-have been shown to prevent breast cancer.

In a study of 75929 women, women who ate at least two servings of peaches per week had a 41% lower risk of ER breast cancer (21Trusted Source).

Interestingly, a test-tube study showed that the polyphenol antioxidants in peaches inhibited breast cancer cell lines’ growth and spread.

Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, may help reduce breast cancer risk.
Cruciferous vegetables include glucosinolate compounds, which your body can turn into molecules described as isothiocyanates. These have vital anti-cancer potential.

Beans are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Specifically, their high fiber content can prevent breast cancer.

A study of 2,571 women found that high legume intake can reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 20% compared to low legume intake. Also, in a study of 1,260 Nigerian women, women with the highest pulses information had a 28% lower risk of breast cancer compared with women with the most insufficient intake of pulses.

Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices such as parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, turmeric, curry, and ginger all contain plant compounds that can help prevent breast cancer. These include vitamins, fatty acids, and polyphenol antioxidants.
For example, oregano has antioxidants carvacrol and rosmarinic acid; these test-tube studies found that they showed significant anti-cancer effects on aggressive breast cancer cell lines.

Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric. It also has significant anti-cancer properties. Apigenin is a concentrated flavonoid in celery.

Happy man feeding food to woman cutting vegetables in kitchen

Foods and drinks to avoid

Although certain foods can prevent breast cancer, other foods may increase your risk of disease.

Therefore, it is best to reduce the intake of the following foods and drinks or avoid them altogether:


Drinking hefty alcohol drinking may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.

Fast food

Eating fast food regularly can bring many adverse effects, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and breast cancer.

Fried food

Studies have shown that eating more fried foods may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Indeed, in a 620 Iranian women survey, fried foods’ intake was the most significant risk factor for breast cancer development.

Processed meat

Processed meats such as bacon and sausages may increase the risk of breast cancer. An analysis of 15 studies linked high processed meat intake to a 9% increase in breast cancer risk.

Added sugar

A high-sugar diet may increase inflammation and the expression of certain enzymes related to cancer growth and spread, thereby significantly increasing breast cancer risk.

Refined carbohydrates

Diets rich in refined carbohydrates, including the typical Western diet, may increase breast cancer risk. Try replacing refined carbohydrates with whole-grain products and nutritious vegetables, such as white bread and sugary baked goods.

About the author

Jared G. Cooley

Jared G. Cooley

Content crafter at Bookowa. I swim, cycle and run a lot. When I'm not doing all those, I love read and try new things.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!