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Johns Hopkins Bayview News - Eating Best for Breast Health

Fall 2012

Eating Best for Breast Health

By: Nicole McFarland
Date: September 3, 2012

Young woman prepares to cook a healthy meal in the kitchen

It is estimated that excess weight and obesity contribute to as many as one in five cancer deaths. Extra weight is considered to be a risk factor for breast cancer, especially for postmenopausal women.

According to Johns Hopkins Bayview clinical dietitian Katie Flickinger, RN, LDN, eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the things a woman can do to decrease her risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence. “Though diet alone is not solely responsible for whether an individual will get cancer, it does play a major role in maintaining a healthy weight,” explains Flickinger.

Women who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than women who are considered overweight or obese. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and low-fat dairy boosts the immune system and helps regulate weight, which may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Eating Healthy Means:

  • Reducing alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day. Recent studies have shown that alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women.
  • Including antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, prunes, grapes, mangos, onions, beans, squash and spinach in your diet. The antioxidants present in these foods are believed to contribute to cancer prevention.
  • Reducing intake of refined grain products (i.e. white bread) and consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Consuming high-sugar foods may lead to excess calorie consumption without providing any of the nutrients that help reduce cancer risk. In addition, excess calorie intake leads to obesity.