Breast Cancer Awareness, Prevention is the Best Medicine

A larger pair of hands cupping a smaller pair of hands palms up with a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon.

Genetics plays a role in who gets breast cancer and who escapes it, but research shows we can be proactive and significantly mitigate the risk through diet and exercise.

Keep Breast Cancer at Bay with Flaxseed

Researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center studied the effects of flaxseed consumption on slowing or stopping the progression of breast cancer cells. The scientists looked at flaxseed lignans, specifically the compound secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG). Not only did SDG stop the spread of the cancer cells, but it also seemed to reverse or repair the biomarkers that prompted the disease to begin with.

How much flaxseed? Less than 50 grams (5 tablespoons) per day, according to Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian with the Mayo Clinic. Ground flaxseed is digested more easily than whole seeds. You might add a tablespoon to your breakfast cereal (hot or cold) or yogurt, or you might put a teaspoonful in your mustard or mayonnaise next time you’re making a sandwich. Bake some into your favorite muffin or cookie recipe to amp up the healthy in your treats!

Taking epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol found in green tea, is another way to keep cancer at bay. A 2017 study determined that EGCG “can prevent and inhibit breasttumorigenesis... and is cytotoxic toward breast cancer cells.” In other words, EGCG stops breast cancer cells from forming in the first place and, if it does come across some, it’s going to work to kill them.

Vitamin D is Key to Preventing Breast Cancer

Scientists working for the National Institutes of Health took a look at the long-term (five years) effects of maintaining proper levels of vitamin D (found in plenty of fortified grocery items or naturally in mushrooms, egg yolks, salmon, tuna, and beef liver, and produced naturally by your body in sunshine) and breast cancer. A 2017 report showed that for women with the highest blood serum vitamin D levels,
breast cancer hazards were reduced by 21 percent compared to women with the lowest levels.

If that isn’t enough inducement to keep some dairy products close by, another study showed that vitamin D works with omega-3 fatty acids to increase the death rate of breast cancer cells.

Researchers have found that having low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can increase cancer risk and progression of the disease. The study showed that the polyunsaturated fats in omega 3s from fish oil can elevate DHA levels and hasten the response of certain anticancer therapies while simultaneously lessening harmful side effects that such treatments can prompt. 

Click to See Our Sources

“Effects of flaxseed lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside on preneoplastic biomarkers of cancer progression... ” by D.M. Delman et al., Nutr Cancer, 5/26/15

“Epigallocatechin gallate inhibits the growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells... ” by O. Hong et al., Oncol Lett, 7/14/17

“Nutrition and healthy eating” by Katherine Zeratsky,, 12/13/15

“The role of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the control of obesity and metabolic derangements in breast cancer” by A. Molfino et al., Int J Sci, 4/16

 “Vitamin D enhances omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells” by J. Yang et al., Cell Biol Int, 8/17 

“Serum vitamin D and risk of breast cancer within five years” by K.M. O’Brien et al., Environ Health Perspect, 7/6/17


Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer and editor with a yen for adventure that fuels his work and his life.