Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with invasive breast cancer affecting 1 in every 8 women in the United States during their lifetime. It even occurs in men, though male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Lifestyle also plays a critical role, with research linking heavy drinking, smoking, estrogen exposure, and certain dietary patterns — including Western diets high in processed foods — to an increased risk of breast cancer (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Notably, studies associate other eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Moreover, specific foods may even protect against this illness (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Here are 10 foods to eat to help reduce your risk of breast cancer, as well as a few to avoid.
Keep in mind that many factors are associated with breast cancer development. While improving your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your cancer risk in general, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Even with a healthy diet, you still need regular breast cancer screenings like mammograms and manual checks. After all, early detection and diagnosis significantly increase survival rates. Talk to your healthcare provider for advice about breast cancer screenings.
All the same, research suggests that these foods may lower your risk of this disease.
1. Leafy green vegetables
Kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, and chard are just a few of the leafy green vegetables that may have anticancer properties.
An analysis of 8 studies in over 7,000 people found that women with higher levels of carotenoids had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer, compared with women with lower levels (9Trusted Source).
Likewise, a followup study in over 32,000 women linked higher blood levels of total carotenoids to an 18–28% reduced risk of breast cancer, as well as a reduced risk of recurrence and death in those who already had breast cancer (10Trusted Source).
2. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are teeming with compounds that may protect against breast cancer, including folate, vitamin C, and carotenoids like beta cryptoxanthin and beta carotene, plus flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin, hesperetin, and naringenin (12Trusted Source).
These nutrients provide antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects (12Trusted Source).
In fact, research ties citrus fruit to a reduced risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. A review of 6 studies in over 8,000 people linked high citrus intake to a 10% reduction in breast cancer risk (13Trusted Source).
Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines.
3. Fatty fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, are known for their impressive health benefits. Their omega-3 fats, selenium, and antioxidants like canthaxanthin may offer cancer-protective effects (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Some studies show that eating fatty fish may specifically reduce your risk of breast cancer.
A large analysis of 26 studies in 883,000 people found that those with the highest intake of seafood sources of omega-3s had up to a 14% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared with those who ate the lowest amount (17Trusted Source).
Regularly enjoying berries may help lower your risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.
Berries’ antioxidants, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, have been shown to protect against cellular damage, as well as the development and spread of cancer cells (20Trusted Source).
5. Fermented foods
A review of 27 studies linked fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, to a reduced risk of breast cancer in both Western and Asian populations (23Trusted Source).
6. Allium vegetables
Garlic, onions, and leeks are all allium vegetables that boast an array of nutrients, including organosulfur compounds, flavonoid antioxidants, and vitamin C. These may have powerful anticancer properties (25Trusted Source).
Likewise, a study in 285 women found that high garlic and leek intake may protect against breast cancer. However, the study noted a positive association between high consumption of cooked onions and breast cancer (25Trusted Source).
Thus, more research on onions and breast health is needed.
7. Peaches, apples, and pears
Fruits — specifically peaches, apples, and pears — have been shown to safeguard against breast cancer.
Interestingly, a test-tube study revealed that polyphenol antioxidants from peaches inhibited the growth and spread of a breast cancer cell line (26Trusted Source).
8. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate compounds, which your body can convert into molecules called isothiocyanates. These have significant anticancer potential (30Trusted Source).
Beans are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Specifically, their high fiber content may protect against breast cancer.
A study in 2,571 women found that high bean intake reduced breast cancer risk by up to 20%, compared with low bean intake (32Trusted Source).
10. Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices like parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, turmeric, curry, and ginger contain plant compounds that may help protect against breast cancer. These include vitamins, fatty acids, and polyphenol antioxidants (34Trusted Source).
For example, oregano boasts the antioxidants carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, which test-tube studies have found to exhibit significant anticancer effects against aggressive breast cancer cell lines (35Trusted Source).
As many other herbs and spices have powerful anticancer effects as well, it’s a good idea to include a wide variety in your diet.
Foods that may help lower your risk of breast cancer include fatty fish, numerous veggies, beans, fermented foods, many herbs and spices, and fruits like berries, peaches, apples, pears, and citrus.What do you think about this article? Please share the article and let us know your comment.