Breast Cancer

What you do, what you eat, and how you handle stress impact your overall state of well-being.

Nearly 230,000 new cases of breast cancer, most of which are women, are expected in 2012, with a total of nearly 40,000 deaths from the disease.[1]

Aside from skin cancer, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among women.

Both the occurrence and death due to breast cancer have declined somewhat in recent years, largely due to a decline in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use among postmenopausal women.

Breast cancer is significantly influenced by dietary and lifestyle factors, in part evidenced by the nearly 3-fold higher occurrence in developed countries compared to underdeveloped ones.[2]

Most studies suggest physical activity lowers breast cancer mortality.[3]

Causes/Contributing Factors

A number of risk factors are known to be associated with breast cancer occurrence, and the risk factors for younger women are not necessarily the same for women over 40.

Among the most well-established risk factors include:

  • a history of cancer in your family, particularly a first degree relative
  • having dense breast tissue

Risk factors for younger women also include:

  • current oral contraceptive use
  • not having a child until after age 30
  • having a prior benign breast biopsy.[4]

Other known risk factors include:

  • alcohol intake
  • smoking
  • higher amounts of dietary fat
  • high percentage of body fat
Consume a vegetable rich, Mediterranean-style diet, emphasizing whole foods and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, etc.)[5]

Relevant Diagnostic Testing

Mammography Screening by mammography is recommended by a number of cancer organizations. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends individualized, informed decision making about when to start mammography.

Cancer staging and classification
is the process of finding out how much cancer there is in a person’s body and where it’s located. It’s how the doctor learns the stage of a person’s cancer. Physical exams, imaging procedures, laboratory tests, pathology reports, and surgical reports provide information to determine the stage of a cancer.

Genetic evaluation Genetic evaluation may be recommended, as a number of genetic mutations have been associated with prognosis (outlook) and help to predict how beneficial different treatments may be.

Vitamin D level Vitamin D levels have been found to be predictive of breast cancer risk and higher grade tumors.[6][7]

Practice mindfulness-based stress reduction, like breathing techniques, yoga, Pilates and meditation.[8]

Dietary Action Plan


  1. Brightly colored, fresh vegetables, leafy greens and fresh fruits (choose organic if possible)
  2. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.
  3. Whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural form as possible)
  4. Low sugar/low glycemic diet (Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are measures of the effect on blood glucose level after a food containing carbohydrates is consumed)
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish such as sardines, wild-caught salmon, cod, mackerel, tuna
  6. High fiber, from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits
  7. Healthy fats, from avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, cold water fish
  8. For animal protein, choose lean poultry and fish over red meat, and aim to view meat as a condiment rather than a staple. Try to choose grass fed and organic meats and eggs whenever possible. Eat no fish larger than a salmon to minimize environmental contaminants, including mercury.


  1. Processed and grilled meats. Also, try to limit intake of red meat
  2. Fast foods, fried foods, baked goods and packaged, processed foods
  3. Sugar, sweeteners  and artificial sweeteners
  4. Vegetable oils, shortening, margarine and anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
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Breast Cancer Supplement Program

Multiple nutritional supplements have been associated with reduced cancer incidence and/or cancer progression. The list below contains those with the greatest evidence-base and benefit, though it is not necessary that they all be included.

Supplement Info



  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • DIM & Isothiocyanates
  • Scutellaria Barbata
  • Curcumin
  • Green Tea
  • Resveratrol
  • Milk Thistle
  • Grape Seed Extract and/or Pycnogenol
  • Quercetin
  • Melatonin
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K2
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[1] Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2012. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jan-Feb;62(1):10-29.

[2] Youlden DR, Cramb SM, Dunn NA, et al. The descriptive epidemiology of female breast cancer: an international comparison of screening, incidence, survival and mortality. Cancer Epidemiol. 2012 Jun;36(3):237-48.

[3] Loprinzi PD, Cardinal BJ, Winters-Stone K, et al. Physical activity and the risk of breast cancer 1recurrence: a literature review. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2012 May 1;39(3):269-74

[4] Nelson HD, Zakher B et al. Risk factors for breast cancer for women aged 40 to 49 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2012 May 1;156(9):635-48.

[5] Voevodina O, Billich C, Arand B, et al. Association of Mediterranean diet, dietary supplements and alcohol consumption with breast density among women in South Germany: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2013 Mar 7;13:203.

[6] Goodwin PJ, Ennis M, Pritchard KI, et al. Prognostic effects of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in early breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Aug 10;27(23):3757-63.

[7] Vrieling A, Hein R, Abbas S, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and postmenopausal breast cancer survival: a prospective patient cohort study. Breast Cancer Res. 2011 Jul 26;13(4):R74.

[8] Carlson LE, Speca M, Patel KD, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress and levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and melatonin in breast and prostate cancer outpatients. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 May;29(4):448-74.

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