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Healthy Diet and Breast Cancer

There is evidence that modifiable risk factors play a significant role in the risk of breast cancer. Factors such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and limiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.



Breast Cancer and Diet

We constantly hear in the news that certain foods, vitamins or diet can cause cancer or vice versa, and protect against cancer. In reality, we know it is very difficult to establish a clear relationship between diet and cancer. People eat many different foods and cancer can take years to develop. It is very difficult to identify the exact nutrient that triggered the cascade that led to the development of cancer. At the present time, it is not clear if a specific diet or vitamin, before diagnosis, affects breast cancer survival. Multiple studies have been contradictory in terms of the effect of dietary fat consumption before diagnosis and breast cancer survival. The same applies to diets high in vitamin A, C, and E. No conclusions regarding the use of vitamins can be made at this time. Also, cancer is multi-factorial and could be related to the combination of multiple factors in addition to diet.We know the proven benefits of a healthy diet and routine exercises will lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and its mortality. Diet after diagnosis is something cancer survivors have control of.


Diet, Exercise and Prevention of Cancer

Scientists estimate that about 30% of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. A report from the World Cancer Research Fund, estimate that eating a nutritious diet, being physically active, and keeping body fat under control may prevent 38% of breast cancers in the United States. These cancer prevention measures mean trimming the odds of developing cancer, not totally eliminating cancer.


Diet and Breast Cancer Survival

The Nurse Health Study examined diet after breast cancer diagnosis and its impact on survival. They found that women who ate the largest amount of poultry, total protein, and omega -3 fatty acids had a lower risk of death. Women who ate more fiber, fish, and vegetables also had a lower risk of death.
No studies have looked at the effect of eating soy products on breast cancer survival. Soy-containing foods can act like estrogen and can cause proliferation in the breast. This could have a negative effect on breast cancer survival. At this time, it is a good idea for breast cancer survivors to avoid soy supplements and use soy-containing foods in moderation.
Researchers say that, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing people can do for cancer prevention. A recent study suggests that people with high blood sugar may be at an increased risk of developing cancer and dying from the disease. We have evidence that eating a healthy diet such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains prevents high blood sugar levels and has the potential to prevent thousands of cancers in the U.S. every year. There is also evidence that being overweight increases the risk of several types of cancer, including breast cancer.


Diet and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy refers to the use of chemicals to kill cancer cells that may remain in the body. Chemotherapy interferes with the patient's immune system making the patient more vulnerable to infections. Adequate nutrition for chemotherapy patients is affected due to common symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, mouth pain or sores, diarrhea, constipation, poor appetite and fatigue. Chemotherapy alters your taste buds considerably and the food does not taste normal. The breast cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy needs a nutrient-rich diet to maintain proper function of the body. The patient needs to eat enough calories to maintain weight. Protein intake is necessary to boost the immune system and optimize strength. A well balanced diet is key to avoiding nutritional deficiencies. It is important to discuss which diet is right for you with your physician.


Keep Good Hygiene

Always wash your hands before preparing meals and handling fruits and vegetables Keep utensils clean Refrigerate food whenever possible Make sure the food is well cooked and heated. A well-cooked meal is a sterilized meal. Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination. If your white blood cells count is low, limit fresh fruits and vegetables and practice strong food safety.


Stay Hydrated

It is imperative to maintain adequate hydration to flush the drugs through the body. The patient undergoing chemotherapy should drink several glasses of water a day.


Foods to Avoid

• Fried foods
• Foods high in sugar
• Hot spicy foods
• Avoid large quantities of food
• Meat is a good source of protein but can cause nausea
• White flour


Sources of Protein

Chemotherapy diet should include Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, legumes, eggs, nuts and low fat dairy.

• Cheese
• Cottage cheese/Ricotta cheese
• Milk
• High protein shakes
• Ice cream/ Yogurt
• Eggs
• Peanut butter
• Meat and fish
• Beans/ legumes
• Nuts,seeds,wheat


Sources of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy for proper functioning of the body. Cereal, potatoes, dairy products, bread, pasta and rice are good sources of carbohydrate.

A healthy diet is built on a base of regular exercise. We encourage a plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and whole grain. Fish and poultry are the best meat choices. Limit red meat, refined grains and sugary drinks.



The Healthy Eating Pyramid

There is no single diet that we can call "the cancer diet". There are numerous diets that emphasize healthy eating habits to promote a healthy weight and wellbeing. We will briefly discuss the Healthy Eating Pyramid. This diet program was designed by the faculty of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. The Healthy Eating Pyramid is based on the most up-to-date research in nutrition and health. The Healthy Eating Pyramid puts an emphasis on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and recommends limiting red meat and sweets. It recommends choosing healthy sources of protein from plant foods (nuts, seeds, beans, and tofu) and from fish, poultry, or eggs. It is built on the basis of daily exercise, emphasizing the importance of weight control. A healthy diet includes more foods from the base of the pyramid than from the higher levels of the pyramid.


Exercise and Weight Control

The foundation and base of the pyramid is composed of exercise and weight control. A healthy diet is built on a base of regular exercise. Regular exercise will burn calories and help control your weight. These two factors will have a positive influence in staying healthy. Because most people put on a pound or two every year, the first and easiest goal should be to stop any more weight gain. After that, getting weight down to a healthy level should be the next step.


Whole Grain

Carbohydrates provide the body with fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function. Whole grains are the best source of carbohydrates. Whole grains include oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. The body cannot digest whole grains as quickly as it can highly processed carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta, and white flour. This keeps the blood sugar and insulin from rising. Other types of carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, and beans.



Healthy Fats and Oils

What matters is the type of fat you eat. The "bad" fats-saturated and trans fats increase the risk of certain diseases. The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fats. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats include olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, trans-fat free margarines, nuts, seeds, avocadoes, and salmon. Foods that contain trans fats are off limits.


Vegetables and Fruits


They are a good source of dietary fiber. We need high fiber foods to keep the digestive system working normally and to help regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Science shows eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables correlates with a healthier heart, lower risk of cancer, better brain function and a longer life. It can protect against diverticulitis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, which is the major causes of vision loss among people over the age of 65.
The studies are less impressive when we look at the benefits of individual vitamins. The benefits may just reflect that people who eat fruits and vegetables tend to have a healthier lifestyle.

Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants and will help your immune system. It is recommended to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It is hard to argue with the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. According to the American Dietetic Association, only about 14% of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, which would be at least 5 servings a day. Fruits and vegetables are rich in water-soluble vitamins including vitamin B (except B12) and vitamin C. The B vitamins are necessary for normal brain function, nervous system function, and cardiovascular system. Vitamin C keeps your immune system working and keeps the integrity of your skin and connective tissue. They are also a source of the fat-soluble vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Vitamin A and E as well as vitamin C are considered to be antioxidants, which protects the cells from free radical damage, which is linked to cancer.
Fruits and vegetables should make up a large portion of your diet. They are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber.
Unless your fruits and vegetables are organic, they grew up in fields covered in pesticides and herbicides. Bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. Coli may be lurking on your fruits and vegetables, whether they are organically grown or conventionally grown. They should be washed thoroughly, prior to consumption.

Nuts, Seeds, Beans, and Tofu

These plant foods are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.


Fish, Poultry, and Eggs

Chicken and turkey are a good source of protein. Fish can reduce the risk of heart disease (omega-3-fats) and egg whites are also a good source of protein.


Dairy

If you enjoy dairy foods, try to stick with no-fat or low-fat products. If you do not like dairy products, taking a vitamin D and calcium supplement can help to meet your daily requirements.


Use Sparingly: Red Meat and Butter

These two sit at the top of the Healthy Eating Pyramid because they contain lots of saturated fat. If you switch to fish, chicken, or beans, you can improve your cholesterol levels.


Use Sparingly: Refined Grains

White bread, rice, and pasta; potatoes; sugary drinks and sweets; salt.
These products can cause fast increases in blood sugar that can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. High-sodium diets increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.


Vitamins, Minerals and Phytochemicals.

A well balanced diet should meet the daily nutritional requirements of vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals (plant compounds which are thought to have health-protecting qualities) of the human body.


Phytochemicals

They are defined as compounds produced by plants. They are found in vegetables, a variety of plants, fruits, beans and grains. They have either antioxidant or hormone-like activity.

Flavonoids. They are found in soybeans, soy products, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, licorice and tea. These are estrogen-like substances from plants called phytoestrogens
Antioxidants. Antioxidants are associated with cancer protection due to their ability toscavenge free radicals from our body. Free radicals are reactive compounds that candamage normal cells. Examples of antioxidants include carrots, yams, cantaloupe,butternut, squash, and apricots. They are also found in vegetables such as broccoli,brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Vitamins with antioxidant properties include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids
Sulfides. Are found in garlic and onions and many fruits and vegetables

Multivitamin With Extra Vitamin D (for most people)

A daily multi vitamin and maybe an extra vitamin D supplement are a great way to assure you are getting all nutrients you need to be healthy. In addition to its bone-health benefits, there is growing evidence that getting some extra vitamin D can help lower the risk of colon and breast cancer. Vitamin D regulates the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Vitamin D appears to be important in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation; thus deficiencies could contribute to the formation of cancers. Best way to increase Vitamin D levels is through supplements of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Daily intakes of 200 to 600 IU/day from supplements may be warranted for some individuals.

Source of Vitamin D

Sunlight: A light-skinned person sunbathing for 15- 20 minutes can make up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D. A dark-skinned person would require more time in the sun
Fortified milk (1 cup) 98 IU
Cooked salmon (3.5 ounces) 360 IU
Canned tuna (3 ounces) 200 IU
Fortified cereals (1 cup) 40 IU

Herbs

Herbs have been used for centuries to treat several ailments. Some herbs can be harmful and actually have a negative effect on the chemotherapeutic regimen.


Optional: Alcohol in Moderation (not for everyone)

Several studies suggest that having an alcoholic drink a day lowers the risk of heart disease. Moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. For women moderate drinking is up to one drink per day. For men it is up to 2 drinks per day. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor. Women should avoid alcohol during pregnancy.


Diet and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy refers to the use of chemicals to kill cancer cells that may remain in the body. Chemotherapy interferes with the patient's immune system making the patient more vulnerable to infections. Adequate nutrition for chemotherapy patients is affected due to common symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, mouth pain or sores, diarrhea, constipation, poor appetite and fatigue. Chemotherapy alters your taste buds considerably and the food does not taste normal. The breast cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy needs a nutrient-rich diet to maintain proper function of the body. The patient needs to eat enough calories to maintain weight. Protein intake is necessary to boost the immune system and optimize strength. A well balanced diet is key to avoiding nutritional deficiencies.


Keep Good Hygiene

• Always wash your hands before preparing meals and handling fruits and vegetables
• Keep utensils clean
• Refrigerate food whenever possible
• Make sure the food is well cooked and heated. A well cooked meal is a sterilized meal
• Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination


Stay Hydrated

It is imperative to maintain adequate hydration to flush the drugs through the body. The patient undergoing chemotherapy should drink several glasses of water a day.


Foods to Avoid

• Fried foods
• Foods high in sugar
• Hot spicy foods
• Avoid large quantities of food
• Meat is a good source of protein but can cause nausea
• White flour


Sources of Protein

Chemotherapy diet should include Protein-rich foods such as lean meat, legumes, eggs, nuts, and low fat dairy.

• Cheese
• Cottage cheese/Ricotta cheese
• Milk
• High protein shakes
• Ice cream/ Yogurt
• Eggs
• Peanut butter
• Meat and fish
• Beans/ legumes
• Nuts, seeds, wheat


Sources of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy for proper functioning of the body. Cereal, potatoes, dairy products, bread, pasta and rice are good sources of carbohydrate.


Fruits and Vegetables

They are a good source of dietary fiber. We need high fiber foods to keep the digestive system working normally and to help regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Science shows eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables correlates with a healthier heart, lower risk of cancer, better brain function and a longer life. The studies are less impressive when we look at the benefits of individual vitamins. The benefits may just reflect that people who eat fruits and vegetables tend to have a healthier lifestyle. Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants and will help your immune system. It is recommended to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables that are recommended are pumpkins, sweet potatoes and carrots, papaya and cranberry. If your white blood cells count is low, limit fresh fruits and vegetables and practice strong food safety.


Diet Aupplements and Antioxidants


Antioxidants
There are phytochemicals that fall into this category including carotenoids.

Phytochemicals
A well balanced diet should meet the daily nutritional requirements of vitamins, mineral and phytochemicals (plant compounds which are thought to have health-protecting qualities) of the human body
Polyphenols
Flavonoids- quercetin, anthocyanins, hesperidin FLAVONOIDS are found in soybeans, soy products, garbanzo beans,chickpeas, licorice, and tea. These are estrogen-like substances from plants called phytoestrogens
Antioxidants
Carotenoids - beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin CAROTENOIDS are phytochemicals with antioxidant characteristics. Examples include carrots, yams, cantaloupe, butternut, squash, and apricots. Antioxidants are commonly found in vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. The term antioxidant is associated with vitamins and cancer protection. Antioxidant include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids

Sulfides

Are found in garlic and onions and many fruits and vegetables Limonene, indole, ellagic acid, allium, sulphoraphane.


Fruits and Vegetables

They are a good source of a number of minerals, calcium and iron are found in dark green leafy vegetables.


Herbs

Herbs have been used for centuries to treat several ailments. Some herbs can be harmful and actually have a negative effect on the chemotherapeutic regimen.


Vitamins

So far medical research has not proven that vitamins taken in either low doses or mega doses prevents cancer.


Servings

One serving of a fruit or vegetable is equal to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one cup. A single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange also counts as one serving. One serving of fruit or vegetable juice is four ounces. Remember 5 servings are minimal. Since most fruits and vegetables are low in calories, you really don't need to worry about eating too many.


A healthy Balanced Diet With:

• Lean meats
• Low-fat Dairy
• Eggs
• Legumes
• Whole grains
• Nuts and seeds


Healthy Fats and Oil

Olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, trans-fat free margarines, nuts, seeds, avocados, and salmon.


Vegetables and Fruits

Decreases the chances of having a heart attack, possibly protects against some types of cancer, lower blood pressure.


Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Tofu

Fish, Poultry, and Eggs

Eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease, since fish is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Chicken and turkey are a good source of protein and can be low in saturated fat. Egg whites are very high in protein.