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Nutritional Suggestions for Healthier Breasts

Over the years we have gathered information about how to keep ourselves healthy through diet, exercise, and stress reduction. As we learn more, we can fine-tune our approach to target specific organs or tissues. For example, a diet designed to reduce the risk of heart disease is different from a diet that benefits those suffering from the effects of arthritis or diabetes. Our breasts are specialized glands, and they too require certain nutrients for optimum health. These nutrients can potentially reduce our risk of both mild and more serious breast diseases.

Many women suffer from fibrocystic changes in the breast. This is a condition that has been linked to estrogen dominance and an increase in sensitivity to estrogen. Although hormone balance plays a key role in the etiology of fibrocystic changes, we can influence our response to hormone imbalances through selected nutritional choices. Dietarily, we can get relief just by increasing our intake of certain foods and nutrients. The goal is to decrease the sensitivity of the breast tissue to estrogen, decrease pain and inflammation caused by the cysts, and maintain tissue health on a cellular level. The most common dietary factor to aggravate fibrocystic changes in the breast is caffeine. Research has demonstrated that stopping caffeine consumption can reduce symptoms in some women. Many women with this condition find significant relief when they remove coffee, tea, and chocolate from their diet.

A more serious condition, breast cancer affects the life of one in every eight women over the course of a lifetime. And, over a lifetime, we have an opportunity to make dietary choices that minimize our risk. Through epidemiological studies, we can evaluate a culture's cancer risk just by evaluating its diet. Traditional Asian cultures maintain a low risk of breast cancer, Mediterranean women an intermediate risk, and Western women a very high risk. By changing our diet to be more like that of low-risk cultures, we may be able to reduce our incidence of breast cancer.

In general breast health is enhanced by a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. Dietary fat can stimulate fat cells, which produce estrogen. Women who carry more fat tend to have higher circulating estrogen levels, which some studies have found to increase breast cancer risk.

A necessary staple of a healthy diet, fruits and vegetables are low in fat, and provide fiber, antioxidant vitamins, and other nutrients like lycopene, lignans, isoflavones, and indoles that are associated with a reduced risk of some cancers.

Dietary fiber can act to bind excess circulating estrogens, allowing the body to excrete them. One particularly good form of fiber is found in ground flaxseed. Flaxseed also contains lignans, a type of phytoestrogen shown to have both weak estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity. Fiber has the additional role of reducing carcinogenesis by several methods. Research has found that breast cancer patients excrete lower levels of urinary lignans than do women without breast cancer.

Isoflavones, like those that are found in soy foods, have been shown to block certain enzymes associated with tumor growth. Soy isoflavones also increase the activity of sex hormone binding globulin, leading to lower circulating levels of free estrogen in the body. It is strongly suspected that the high soy intake in traditional Asian cultures plays a role in the low occurrence rate of breast and other cancers. Mixed carotenoids have been found to be more effective than beta-carotene alone for their anti-oxidant and anti-tumor effects. Lycopene, the major carotenoid in tomatoes, was shown in research to strongly inhibit the growth of human breast, endometrial, and lung tumor cells in a laboratory setting. It also suppressed insulin-like-growth-factor, which plays an important role in the regulation of breast and endometrial cell growth. Lycopene is found primarily in tomatoes, a staple of Mediterranean cultures. Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and broccoli, contain indoles, which have been shown in research to promote estrogen de-activation and inhibit the growth of some breast tumors. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and other catechins found in green tea have been shown to inhibit the interaction between estrogen and estrogen receptors in estrogen-sensitive tumors. EGCG also appears to inhibit urokinase, an enzyme necessary for tumor metastasis. Green tea consumption in Asian societies has been linked to their low risks of certain cancers and its use is widely acknowledged as being cancer protective.

It is well established that nutritional factors have a significant influence on the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, including heart disease and cancer-- leading causes of death in women of Western cultures. With the emerging scientific information detailing the relationship between diet and health, women are now more equipped than ever to make healthy dietary choices so they may secure a healthier future.

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By power-surge.netntributor:
Dr. Deborah Moskowitz





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