October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Nutrition plays a role in lowering risk for all cancers, but recent research sheds further light on the role of nutrition for surviving and thriving after a breast cancer diagnoses.
The Nurses Health Studies started in the 1970’s and 80’s and followed around 250,000 women in the US into the 2000’s. Regular data was collected from the group regarding lifestyle habits and diagnoses of breast cancer. Analyzing the participants’ data has allowed epidemiologists to make observations about dietary choices and cancer outcomes.
One paper linked overall higher vegetable intake with lower risk of mortality after diagnoses. The strongest link to survival was found with intake of cruciferous and green leafy vegetables. One daily serving of cruciferous veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, decreased risk of dying during the study period by 13%. While two servings of green leafy veggies, spinach, arugula, romaine lettuce, reduced risk by 20% when compared to women who ate none. This is a strong endorsement for eating daily servings of these foods despite these studies being observational in nature.
A second study found that women who consumed a diet raising insulin levels had an increased risk from dying from any cause. Higher fiber intake decreased risk for breast cancer patients. Previous research suggested higher fiber intake lowers risks for developing breast cancer. All of which points to choosing more whole fruits and vegetables, versus starchy vegetables or processed grains, and watching portion sizes may all contribute to survivorship.
For more on these studies, check out the full article
These findings line up with the lifestyle recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research, found here. Consider your risk, choose some daily leafy and cruciferous veggies, and share this knowledge with those you love. Together we can lower breast cancer risk, and help increase survivorship!