A Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

A Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Do you know that your breast glands have their own microbiome? And just like the gut microbiome, diet can affect it.

Microbiome refers to the different varieties of living organisms such as fungi and bacteria, which popular your body. Their ecosystem is extremely important in order to maintain a good health.

It surprised the scientists that diet can also influence the microbiome present outside the intestinal tracts. They are of the viewpoint that diet can shift the microbiome in the gut. This can eventually help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

The scientists involved female monkeys to check how diet can affect their breast tissue. They fed one group of these monkeys with high-fat Western diet. For the other group, the scientists chose a plant-based Mediterranean diet

After 2 and a half years, which is equal to 8 years in the case of humans, scientists recorded results. The two groups showed important differences in bacteria present in the breast tissue.

The Mediterranean diet group showed 10 times more Lactobacillus in their mammary gland. These bacteria are extremely useful in slowing down the growth of breast tumors. Moreover, the cancerous tumors of the breast have low quantities of Lactobacillus than the noncancerous ones.

The Mediterranean diet group also showed more bile acid metabolites. This can also play an important role in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

A Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Image by Medical News Today

Microbiomes tend to vary according to the places where a person lives. So, future studies must focus on primates from varying regions of the world.

A lot of other studies are underway to check if probiotics or fish oil can affect these microbiomes.

The details of this research are present in Cell Reports.

What is the Role of Diet in Breast Cancer?

Experts tend to appreciate the studies involving breast cancer and its links with diet. This is because such kinds of studies help encourage the patients to focus on diets.

But most of the experts also acknowledge the fact that breast cancer prevention is not a simple task.

Women in the United States have 1 in 8-lifetime risk of acquiring breast cancer. Some other risk factors of this cancer are beyond your control. These include risk factors like age and genetics.

It is crucial to perform studies but you must be careful about how you interpret conclusions. It is not just one thing but in fact a combination of them. Age is a major factor for breast cancer.

It is also important to remember that breast cancer is not a single disease.

This is what makes cancer research challenging and depressing. It is actually challenging that you are trying to encounter a wide range of diseases. Breast cancer is of so many different types. So, there are a lot of things which may affect its development.

Diet may play a small portion of this. So, the researchers must not let patients think that they can prevent breast cancer by adopting a certain diet. You can adopt these habits to reduce the risk. But this doesn’t mean that you should never screen for it and pretend that it can never happen to you.

Most of the experts, therefore, advise the patients to keep things simple.

Exercise, diet, and a moderate intake of alcohol are different factors to control. Only then can you decrease the risk of this cancer.

Weight control is also an important part of the regimen. Obese women tend to be at a much higher risk for breast cancer.

Switching to a Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet tends to focus more on whole grains and plants. This is in contrast to the western diet which is full of refined grains and white bread.

Whenever it is possible, choose fresh foods over processed ones.

It may be difficult to decide if something is processed or plant-based. Ask yourself if it is something that you would find in nature.

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Simple dietary changes can help you in the long run.

A Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Image by AARP

For example, instead of eating pre-packaged breakfast, prefer a nut mix. Search for foods that do not have added sugar and sodium. Experts also recommend substituting high-starch foods like potatoes with veggies.

Eating fresh food is the best. But if you absolutely have to, canned or frozen veggies may also work.

A typical western diet plan includes lots of fatty red meat which may lead to inflammation. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, limits the red meat. It focuses more on poultry and fish.

The Mediterranean diet also consists of more omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming fish like salmon, healthy oils, and nuts reduce your risk of cancer.

Eating less dairy and red meat can lower triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure. Moreover, the Mediterranean diet has a lesser amount of sodium and salt. This may also help you get a better hold on your blood pressure.

It is also better to replace white bread with whole wheat bread. But this may be a lot trickier.

It is important to acknowledge that honey wheat bread and plain wheat bread are different than the whole grain one. They are just like white bread in disguise. So prefer getting a 100 percent whole wheat with no flour enrichment.

Eating out frequently can also make things difficult. However, you can still manage to make some healthier tweaks.

When you order salads in a restaurant, always choose vinegar-based and oil-based dressings. Creamy dressings like ranch will not be of any use.

Olive oil consists of healthy fats and is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. It can help control inflammation.

Look for alternative options to potatoes. Instead of fries, always ask for a side salad or fresh veggies.

A typical American diet is full of prepackaged and processed foods. It is there to make lives easier but it does not improve health. So, every time you throw these things out of your life and add veggies and fruit, you are doing yourself a favor.

Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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