Today, a report entitled “Diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer” came out from the World Cancer Research Fund. When you are a dietitian, this kind of thing excites you – why? Well it included a good review and analysis of the research on breast cancer. Looking at 119 studies worldwide and over 250,000 women, the evidence has been categorised into strong and limited evidence.
Here is a little summary and a vlog I did as a Facebook Live.
There is strong evidence for alcohol increasing the risk of breast cancer. The report states that a glass of wine or small beer a day (equivalent to 10g alcohol content) is linked to a 5% increase in breast cancer risk in pre-menopausal ladies and a 9% increase in post-menopausal ladies. We all know alcohol is a toxin for the body, I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up entirely though. Other evidence from the Mediterranean diet tells us that red wine can be good for heart health. So I think the take home message here is to stick to small amounts and to have plenty of alcohol free days too.
Limited evidence was found for
- Eating non starchy vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, beans, green leafy veg etc).
- Eating catotenoids – orange and red fruit (orange peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots) and veggies plus dark leafy greens.
- Having a high intake of dairy foods. Increasing these by 200g led to a 5% decreased risk.
We all know we should be getting active. The research supports this showing exercise that increases your heart rate was helpful in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Swimming, running, fast walking, cycling – anything that gets you a bit out of breath.
A strong link was found with weight. Being a healthy weight could prevent 16% of cases in the UK.
Pre-conception and pregnancy are key times for getting on top of your eating as what you eat will help lay the foundation for baby. Your diet at this point can influence your baby as an adult, Birthweight was found to be a predictor or later growth and being a healthy weight is linked to reducing the risk of so many chronic diseases including breast cancer.
Having children reduces your risk as does having a pregnancy before you are aged 30 yrs.
Finally breastfeeding was found to reduce the risk for you as a mummy.
Lots of great take home tips that centre around eating well and being active. We already knew that waa a good idea, now there is more proof.