Breast Cancer Nutrition

Feeding your body with a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise can improve your overall health, quality of life and reduce your risk of developing other illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease.

What we do know about reducing initial risk through nutrition is that a healthy, plant-based or Mediterranean diet can have a preventative effect in developing breast cancer initially.

In a recent (2013) study of 91,000 women, a plant-based diet was associated with a 15% reduction in breast cancer risk; this effect was even more significant for women with estrogen-receptor negative and progesterone-receptor negative (ER-/PR-) tumours.

Gaining Weight

I seem to have put on weight during my treatment! This is not unusual. You may have less energy than you used to, are fatigued, and might not have adjusted your diet to suit.

There are other significant factors that can affect your weight, such as early onset menopause from treatment, or weight gain as a physical side effect of your treatment. For example, chemotherapy steroids can increase your appetite.

What about exposure to pesticides?

Different fruits and vegetables are exposed to varying amounts of pesticides during their growth cycle. The highest exposure occurs with apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, capsicum, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes.

The lowest risk is associated with avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, cabbage, sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi fruit, and eggplants. However they are rated, it is important to eat fruits and vegetables – if you feel uncomfortable about pesticide exposure choose fruits and vegetables that encounter less exposure or buy organic.

Should I change my diet?

If you’ve been reading up on breast cancer, you might have come across stories online claiming that one diet or another can cure you. Be wary of these highly exaggerated claims. Going too extreme could be dangerous.

Before you try any new diet, check with your dietitian and your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you. Your diet should contain a healthy balance of nutrients, protein, calories, and fat.

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