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Breast Cancer Prevention
We intend to evaluate the cancer risk reduction associated with a high nutrient density diet. We will perform a prospective study examining the incidence of cancer in a large cohort (of 1000 individuals) who remain on a HND diet for a 10 year period and compare them to their national cohorts on a standard American diet over that time period. Among other factors, we will monitor biomarkers such body mass index (BMI), insulin-like growth factor-1, 8OHdG levels, Vitamin D status, CBC, hsCRP and lymphocyte telomere length. It is expected that we will be able to follow this cohort of 1000 people for more than 10 years.
The World Cancer Research Fund published a 517 page report in 2007 summarizing systematic reviews of several thousand research studies related to cancer prevention. This report concluded that 50 % of cancers are preventable.1 Another major epidemiological study (the HALE study) cited a more than 60 % reduction in all cause mortality, including cancer, over the course of the study among people who had adopted a healthier lifestyle.2 While factors such as chemicals, tobacco, radiation, physical inactivity, obesity and certain infectious organisms has been shown to play a definitive role in cancer development, the role of diet in the development and progression of cancer continues to challenge scientists.3
Research has shown that a high intake of vegetables and fruits along with other natural sources of dietary fiber like legumes, nuts and seeds is associated with a lower risk of most degenerative diseases, including cancer.2 The World Cancer Research Fund concluded that there was convincing evidence that vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of oral, esophageal, lung, stomach, colon, pancreatic, and bladder cancer.1 Other studies have shown that higher intake of certain substances found in vegetables correlate with reduced risk of cancers of the lung, breast, colon and prostate.4 There are at least 5,000 known phytochemicals that may play a role. Substances like isothiocyanate, indole-3-carbinol, and diindolylmethane, or DIM and Sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables inhibit cancer development by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death), blocking activation of carcinogens and enhancing their detoxification, and by decreasing the expression of cancer promoting hormonal receptors. Other substances like caroteniods, resveratrol and ellagic acid also found in vegetables and fruits have demonstrated cancer protective properties.5 In addition to plant based phytochemicals, there is evidence that certain mushrooms, nuts and seeds, soy, certain spices and herbs and green tea offer protection against several cancers.
While the rationale for cancer prevention through our daily food choices seems clear, research to determine the optimal diet style for risk reduction is scant. Research as to the critical intake of nutrients and the duration required to reduce cancer growth and progression is needed.
Read Dr. Fuhrman's essay, October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, didn't you hear?
- World Cancer Research Fund, Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. American Institute for Research on Cancer, 2007
- Knoops, K. T. B., et al., Mediterranean Diet, Lifestyle Factors, and 10 year Mortality in Elderly European Men and Women-The HALE Project. JAMA 292 (2004):1433-39.
- Milner J. Incorporating basic nutrition science into heath interventions in cancer prevention. JNutr. 2003; 133(11Suppl1):38205-38265.
- Rose P. et al. Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2005;S0041-008X.
- Seeram, N. et al. Blackberry, Black Raspberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Red Raspberry and Strawberry Extracts inhibit Growth and Stimulate Apoptosis of Human Cancer Cells in Vitro. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54 (2006): 9329-39.