Diet and Breast cancer

Breast Cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in women today. There are many believes about diet and breast cancer incidence and recurrence especially when it comes to alcohol consumption, weight gain and being overweight.

More studies are supporting the role that dietary factors can play in both the development and prevention of BC. I am going to present the risk factors as well as the protective factors against the development of breast cancer (BC).

Risk factors:

Red meat:

It is associated with an increased risk of BC, but this is dependent on the way it’s being cooked. Overcooked meat, especially grilled or roasted, has carcinogenic compounds that are formed during high temperature cooking of animal foods. This however varies according to the hormonal status of the woman.


Many studies have found that BC is less common in countries that follow low fat diets. High-fat diet has long been considered as an important factor in the development of BC. High-fat diet, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels are associated with increased risk of BC.
There is a direct link between fat consumption and adipose tissue, which can produce estrogen and drive certain BCs. Furthermore, accumulated fat tissue may lead to the formation of tumors via pathways involving insulin and insulin like growth factors.


Alcohol may impair folate absorption and metabolism, and can cause weight gain. This leads to an increase in estrogen which increase the risk of BC. Therefore, alcohol intake is a risk factor for BC occurrence and should be minimized.

Simple carbohydrates:

They increase the secretion of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and growth hormones responsible for tumor development by increasing cell proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Preventive and protective factors:

Fish and especially omega 3 fatty acids:

These help in the reduction of the risk of BC, due to the anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3 fatty acids. A recent meta-analysis demonstrated that higher consumption of dietary marine omega 3 fats reduces the risk of BC by 14%, whereas no significant association was observed for fish intake.

Fiber, fruits, vegetables, and Complex Carbohydrates:

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and complex carbs help controlling insulin because they are rich in fiber. Fiber slows down the absorption of glucose into the small intestine, controlling the level of sugar. It is advised to control the sugar level since it decreases the risk of BC. Moreover, Fiber prevents cancer cell development by improving insulin sensitivity and the increase in insulin, which is associated with increased levels of IGF, responsible for tumor development by increasing cell proliferation and inhibiting the programmed cell death.
As for the fruits and vegetables, they are protective against BC due to their high content of polyphenols and fiber. They are rich in antioxidants, that reduce the risk of BC occurrence and reduce the growth of cancer cells.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D possess potential anti-carcinogenic properties including regulation of apoptosis, cell differentiation, cell growth and growth factor signaling. Sun exposure is inversely proportional with the incidence of BC, but you should be careful not to spend more than 20 minutes in the sun without protection to minimize the risk of skin cancer.


There is no one food or diet that can prevent you from getting breast cancer. But some foods can make your body stronger and the healthiest it can be, boost your immune system and help keep your risks of breast cancer as low as possible.

The bottom line, I advise you to follow a healthy lifestyle which includes daily physical activity, reducing the stress level, and a healthy diet with less red meat, simple carbs, fats and alcohol, and more fish, fruits and vegetables. And finally don’t forget to sit in the sun to get more of the protective Vitamin D, and the regular screening for early detection of the disease which will increase the chance of cure and survival.