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Fight Breast Cancer at Every Meal

  1. Pump Up Your Produce

    Fruits and vegetables contain
    powerful antioxidants that help
    protect against all forms of cancer.
    Plus, they're low in calories, so loading
    up on them is an easy way to
    keep your weight in check. Studies
    have found that eating five servings
    of produce a day reduces the odds
    of a breast-cancer recurrence in
    women, especially when combined
    with daily exercise. Consuming
    more than that doesn't seem
    to have any additional preventive
    effect, according to a study
    published in the Journal of the
    American Medical Association
    .
    Your best bet, says the American
    Cancer Society's Marji McCullough,
    is to eat a wide variety of brightly
    colored produce. "That way you're
    more likely to get all the phytochemicals
    that are important to
    cancer prevention."
  2. Cut the Fat

    Studies on dietary
    fat have been conflicting and
    inconclusive, but most experts say
    it's still wise to steer clear of saturated
    fat as much as possible.
  3. Get Plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D

    This spring, a
    10-year Harvard study found
    that premenopausal women who
    got 1,366 milligrams of calcium
    and 548 IU of vitamin D daily
    slashed their breast-cancer risk
    by a third, and their odds of getting
    invasive breast cancer by up
    to 69 percent.

    "This is a promising area of
    research," says McCullough, who
    recommends eating calcium-rich
    foods like lowfat dairy products,
    canned salmon, almonds, fortified
    orange juice, and leafy greens, or
    taking a 1,000- to 1,200-milligram
    calcium supplement. Although
    milk contains vitamin D, most
    yogurt and cheese do not. To get
    enough, you probably need a
    multi vitamin, or if you're taking a
    calcium supplement, choose one
    that also contains 800 to 1,000
    IU of vitamin D.

  4. Sprinkle Flaxseed on Your Cereal

    Flaxseed is a good source of lignans,
    compounds that may play a
    role in preventing estrogendependent
    cancers by inhibiting
    the development of tumors
    or slowing their rate of growth,
    according to McCullough.
    "Other sources of lignans
    include sunflower seeds,
    peanuts, cashews, rye bread,
    and strawberries."
  • Keep Cookouts to a Minimum

    A recent study from the University of North
    Carolina found that postmenopausal
    women who had consumed
    a lot of barbecued and
    smoked red meat or chicken
    over their lifetimes had a greater
    risk of developing breast cancer
    than those who ate less. "When
    you grill meat, the amino acids
    form compounds called
    heterocyclic amines, which are
    carcinogenic. They're especially
    concentrated in charred meat,"
    says Rachel Zinaman, R.D., a
    nutritionist at Memorial Sloan-
    Kettering Cancer Center's Evelyn
    Lauder Breast Center. "Plus, when
    the fat drips on the heat source,"
    she adds, "it forms polycyclic
    aromatic hydrocarbons, another
    cancer-causing compound that
    binds to the meat."

    If the barbecue grill is beckoning,
    protect yourself by marinating
    the meat first or cutting it into
    smaller chunks. These cook faster
    than larger pieces, which reduces
    the likelihood that carcinogenic
    chemicals will form.

  • Imbibe Intelligently

    That means stopping after that
    first mojito. "More than one daily
    drink increases your odds of
    developing breast cancer by 20
    percent or more," says Zinaman. In
    a recent Norwegian study, those
    who had two or more drinks a
    day during the previous five years
    had an 82 percent greater chance
    of developing breast cancer
    than those who didn't drink at all.
    "Alcohol may raise estrogen levels
    and interfere with the body's
    ability to use folic acid, a B vitamin
    that's been linked to cancer
    prevention," she says.
  • Fill Up On Fiber

    A diet that's rich in fiber (30 or
    more grams a day) can halve the
    risk of breast cancer among
    premenopausal women, according
    to a new study from the University
    of Leeds in England. It makes
    sense, says Zinaman. "Fiber-rich
    foods contain antioxidants and
    phytochemicals that are thought
    to be protective."