Reducing Breast Cancer Risk Through Nutrition

By June Rousso
June Rousso
June Rousso
I am a New York State licensed psychologist and a nutritional consultant with an M.S. degree in holistic nutrition. My interests have expanded over the years to the field of nutrition, which I often integrate in my work as a psychologist. I love to write and educate people about nutrition so that they can make more informed choices about their health. I believe that dietary and lifestyle changes are so important in our lives to support a healthy lifestyle.
October 14, 2014 Updated: October 14, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I thought it important to write a blog that addresses how to protect ourselves from the risks of breast cancer. A diet that is nutritionally-dense and eliminates refined sugar is key to support optimal health. Fresh organic fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients, especially anti-oxidants to fight free radicals that can contribute to breast cancer. Environmental toxins, emotional stress, excess exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, and consuming fats that have been oxidized all contribute to free radical formation.

Grass-fed meat, pasture-fed chicken, and wild cold-water fish in moderation are good sources of proteins. Whole grains, nuts, and seeds, also in moderation, are nutritious and add fiber to the diet that help remove toxins from the body. Cancer cells feed on sugar and we need to deprive them of fuel by eliminating refined sugar from the diet.

We also take in and produce many toxic chemicals that are associated with breast cancer risks. Radiation exposure adds to the toxic load. Our liver plays a major role in detoxifying chemicals and radiation. But in order to function optimally, the liver needs specific vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients, many of which can be obtained through diet. If we are depleted of these nutrients, the liver cannot do its job well and there can be a back-up of toxins in the body.

Cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of liver-supportive nutrients and should be consumed on a regular basis. Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and watercress are all in the cruciferous family. Cruciferous vegetables should be cooked to minimize chemicals that block the production of thyroid hormone. A complete list of cruciferous vegetables can be obtained from

Detoxification in the liver normally requires two steps, each of which requires certain nutrients to do their job. Patrick Holford in his book, “Say No to Cancer”, outlines which nutrients and foods containing these nutrients support the liver:

Phase I Detoxification:

Glutathione from in onions and garlic.
Coenzyme Q10 from oily fish, spinach, raw seeds, and nuts.
Vitamin C from broccoli, bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries.
Vitamin E and Selenium from raw nuts, seeds, and fish.
Beta-carotene from carrots, peaches, watermelon, sweet potato, and butternut squash.

Phase II Detoxification:

Calcium d-glucarate from apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bean sprouts.
Glycine and glutamine from root vegetables and sprouts.
Sulfur-containing amino acids from onions, garlic, and eggs.

Holford also points out that B-vitamins in greens and beans, vitamin B12 from grass-fed meats free of hormones and anti-biotics, and TMG from root vegetables support Phase II detoxification. Glutathione actually is recycled in the body by anthocyanidins and alpha-lipoic acid. Blueberries are high in anthocyanidins while alpha-lipoic acid is best absorbed in supplement form.

In terms of fluids, we need to drink lots of water, at least eight glasses a day to help flush out toxins. Detoxifying teas, such from milk thistle and dandelion, also should be consumed on a regular basis.

Beyond foods to support liver detoxification, soy appears to play a role in reducing breast cancer risks. Soy contains a weak form of estrogen that may block estrogen receptor sites and reduce its levels in the body. High levels of estrogen have been associated with breast cancer. Holford also points out that soy beans may inhibit the development of new blood vessels, which provide nutrients to tumors. Always choose organic soy over processed versions. Adding seaweed to the diet is another consideration as it can help to protect us from radiation.

I hope that my blog makes readers aware of the importance of good nutrition in reducing cancer risks, especially as it relates to starving cancer cells, detoxification, and blocking estrogen receptors. The nutritional focus does not minimize the importance of moderate exercise and stress-reduction, which are especially important for boosting the immune system, which is necessary to reduce risks for any disease.