Every year in the U.S. around 230,000 women (and a few rare men) receive the terrible news that they have breast cancer. This second leading cause of cancer death in women claims 40,000 lives every year. On a more positive note, there are 2.9 million breast cancer survivors enjoying life in America today. Several studies have found a range of everyday foods for breast health that can actually lower the risk of breast cancer.
Cancer and Cruciferous Vegetables
When it comes to breast cancer, studies have shown a remarkable connection between certain green leafy vegetables and a lower risk of breast cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts and bok choy are all high in anti-carcinogenic DIM (diindolylmethane). They are part of the Brassica family and are equally effective eaten either raw or cooked.
Studies on Cancer and Foods for Breast Health
African American women are known to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer than Caucasian women. A 12-year study of 59,000 African American women showed that those who had a diet high in all vegetables were 43% less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative breast tumors than similar women who ate fewer vegetables.
When scientists narrowed down the risk further, they found that those who ate two servings of any vegetables per day had significantly lower risk than those who ate four portions or less of vegetables per week. However, those with the highest intake, specifically of cruciferous vegetables, had lower overall risk of developing breast cancer, showing cruciferous vegetables to be excellent foods for breast health.
How Cruciferous Foods Help With Breast Health
Brassicas and other green leafy vegetables are high in phytochemicals and DIMs. They appear to be particularly good foods for breast health as they are known to decrease the Phase 1 enzymes which create carcinogens. As yet, scientists do not understand exactly how these vegetables work, but studies show that the best protection against the risk of breast cancer is by consuming 3-5 servings per week of cruciferous vegetables.
Such is the powerful potency of DIM that the National Cancer Institute is reportedly running clinical trials to establish its potential as a therapy for cancer making broccoli and other green leafy vegetables the best foods for breast health.