Research often focuses on how specific foods or nutrients affect our risk of disease risk. In reality, our food and nutrients interact in very complex and subtle ways. So it is a good idea to find studies that look at disease risks based on food patterns.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in developed countries. While we know that factors such as obesity, family history, menstrual history, and the number of children modify women’s risk of cancer, these are difficult — if not impossible — to change. But diet can be changed!
An estimated 33% of breast cancer could be prevented by changing diet, and 20% could be reduced by lowering alcohol intake. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF) believed that there is convincing evidence tying high alcohol consumption with breast cancer, but not so convincing evidence for changing diet.
However, a group of British researchers have “pooled” the results of 18 studies on diet and breast cancer studies (11 of these have been published since the WCRF conclusion). They found that eating right and drinking less really does protect against breast cancer. This is the first systematic review of dietary patterns and breast cancer.
This review focused on the dietary patterns of over 400,000 women. Those who consumed diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains were identified as eating a “prudent/healthy” diet. They were compared to those who ate a less prudent “Western-style” diet, high in meat and animal products. Women sticking most closely to the prudent diet experienced 11% less breast cancer. And, just like the results of other studies, higher consumption of alcohol raised breast cancer by 21%.
How much more evidence do we need?? Dietary patterns rich in plant foods can lower the risk of many diseases, including breast cancer. Our Creator talked about this diet in Genesis 1:29: “Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.“
So, what is your dietary pattern?