Actress Ellen Pompeo has been gradually cutting back on the use of animal products in her home for years, but it wasn’t until she visited her physician for a routine checkup that she decided to cut the animal products from her diet altogether. Her doctor, Dr Kristi Funk, who has just written a book called “Breasts: The Owner’s Manual”, explained how a vegan diet can help prevent various forms of cancer, including breast cancer. A 2013 study by Loma Linda University School of Public Health found that women who ate vegan had a 34 percent lower rate of “female-specific” cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers. Dr Funk’s advice was enough for Pompeo to not only change her own diet, but have the whole household go vegan, including their three children!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to remind women and the men who love them that a plant-based diet is the best diet for both avoiding and battling the disease.
Breast cancer is a very complicated disease but here are just a few of the ways that a veg diet helps. Cancer, including breast cancer, can be caused by toxic chemicals found in the environment, called carcinogens, that greatly concentrate in animal tissue and then get transferred to us when we eat animal-derived foods. Also, other carcinogens called heterocyclic amines, or HCA’s for short, form when meat is cooked. By consuming a plant based diet you can avoid almost all of these dangerous carcinogens. Read more
A plant-based diet offers some hope for a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer, when it’s combined with a new treatment currently under investigation.
A vegan diet naturally supplies lower amounts of an amino acid called methionine, which is oversupplied in meat-centered diets, and so it may help slow the growth of tumors in patients who have what is known as “triple-negative breast cancer” cells, according to scientists at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, reporting in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. The reason the vegan diet helps is because it primes the cancer cells to be more easily killed by a targeted antibody treatment, a new form of immunotherapy currently undergoing clinical trials.
Patients with triple negative breast cancer currently have limited treatment options because their tumor cells lack the three receptors — estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) — commonly targeted in hormone or chemotherapy. “What’s particularly exciting about our findings is that they suggest that a dietary intervention can increase the effectiveness of a targeted cancer therapy. We still have much to learn, but we believe that uncovering the molecular effects of specific nutritional interventions like a low- methionine diet will open up new treatment options for cancer,” says Vincent Cryns, the lead researcher. The hope for immunotherapy responders is that diet, combined with the new treatment, will boost the survival time.
The best part of using a plant-based diet to boost the effectiveness of this breast cancer treatment is that it’s both safe and has no side effects, and in the meantime reduces the risk of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Important note: if you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, you should not make dietary changes without consulting your doctor.
Doctors have recently found an important clue to solving the problem of preventing and reversing breast cancer. For years they noticed that women taking statin drugs lowered their risk of breast cancer as well, but they didn’t know why. But now the answer has been found, and another advantage that vegetarians have, in lowering their risk for breast cancer, becomes clearer.
Most breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen, which can stimulate their growth. It turns out that as the body metabolizes or breaks down cholesterol so that it can be eliminated, a substance called 27Hydroxycholesterol, or 27HC for short, is produced in abundant amounts. Scientists have now discovered that 27HC acts like estrogen in promoting breast cancer and its spread throughout the body.
This also explains why estrogen-blocking drugs such as Tamoxifen sometimes fail to be effective. It’s because often the person has high cholesterol, which produces high levels of 27HC which promotes the cancer.
The good news is that high cholesterol is something every woman can do something about. Rather than trying to develop a drug to block 27HC, the doctors at Duke University presented a more practical idea for breast cancer patients. That is, they recommended they reduce their cholesterol levels through diet.
Naturally, lowering cholesterol levels through diet modifications may not only help keep levels of 27HC in check, it may also improve risk factors for heart disease. And since research suggests that many breast cancer patients actually die from cardiovascular disease, lowering elevated cholesterol levels through diet is a great choice for heart health as well!
Vegetarians and vegans are at lower risk of breast cancer in the first place and this may be one of the reasons why. In fact, studies show that vegetarians have a much lower cholesterol than average and vegans have levels even lower than that. Added to this are the higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to lower cancer risk as well. It turns out again and again that cutting out meat and other animal products is the best way to eat for so many health considerations.
Here’s a bit of news on a large and complicated topic. Eat your veggies to help prevent breast cancer!
Phytonutrients are powerful when it comes to preventing a variety of diseases, including cancer. Phytonutrients are substances found only in plant foods. They are neither vitamins nor minerals, but are nevertheless vital for good health. A recent study found that those women with the highest intakes of phytonutrients called carotenoids had a reduced risk of estrogen-positive breast cancer by as much as a third, and a reduced risk of estrogen-negative breast cancer by almost half.
In another study, post-menopausal women with breast cancer who doubled their intake of plant foods, reduced their risk of recurrence of the cancer after treatment by almost 50%. Carotenoids are found abundantly in red, yellow and deeply colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale.
Not surprisingly, those following a vegan diet have the highest plant food intakes of all. A recent study found that women following a vegan diet had a 34% lower risk of breast cancer, as well as a significantly reduced risk of other female cancers, such ovarian cancer.
Breast cancer is a complicated disease involving other lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and several others. However, diet is also a major factor. Scientific research has shown again and again that you can give yourself the best chance of avoiding this disease by consuming generous amounts of health-promoting plant foods.