Nutritional science continues to sharpen our understanding of how the foods people eat may contribute to the development of cancer, as well as how certain foods can support a patient nutritionally while in active treatment.
With breast cancer specifically, research is showing that because it’s often a hormonally driven disease, controlling your weight and managing your diet can be helpful during treatment and may help decrease your chances of developing the disease in the first place.
Dr. Gertraud Maskarinec, a physician in preventive medicine and nutritional epidemiology and associate director for research education at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu, says that while there isn’t a so-called “best diet” for preventing or dealing with breast cancer, avoiding obesity is important.
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Justine Friedman, a clinical dietitian and a mindset mentor in private practice and a mentor on the Belong.Life Diet, Nutrition & Cancer group on their Belong-Beating Cancer Together App, headquartered in New York, recommends adopting the Mediterranean diet for best results.
“The best diet for health in general – and to reduce breast cancer risk – is the Mediterranean diet lifestyle approach, which focuses on whole-grain carbohydrates, or grains, as a foundation with loads of vegetables and fruit.”
In addition, those following a Mediterranean lifestyle will also consume fatty fish twice a week “and red meat and chicken very rarely. Legumes and beans are highly encouraged, and dairy products should be low fat and in moderate amounts,” she says.
Any healthy diet limits the intake of processed foods, and that’s true for the Mediterranean lifestyle, Friedman says. “Processed red meat products like deli meats and sausages, deep fried chicken (with the skin) and breaded, fried fish are considered to be cancer promoting.”