Foods that can help prevent breast cancer recurrence

An international study published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum finds that consuming certain plant-based food can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death, especially in post-menopausal women.

Researchers reviewed 22 published studies that examined the impact of phytonutrients found in soybeans, lignans (found in a variety of plants such as seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables), cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.), and green tea on breast cancer recurrence and mortality as well as on mortality from all causes.

A high intake of soy isoflavones was associated with a 26 per cent reduction in breast cancer recurrence. The greatest benefit came from a daily intake of 60 milligrams which is equivalent to two or three cups of soy milk, three ounces of tofu or half a cup cooked soybeans, the study said. But the effect of soy consumption on breast cancer mortality risk was smaller—just 12 per cent.

Enterolactone, a compound which is formed in the gut when lignans are digested, reduced the risk of breast cancer mortality by 28 per cent and death from any cause by 31 per cent overall, and 35 per cent in post postmenopausal women. Flaxseeds, cashew nuts, broccoli and brussels sprouts contain especially high levels of lignans.

Consuming three to five or more cups of green tea daily was associated with 44 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence in women with stage I or II breast cancer.

“It is critically important to stress that these studies were conducted on women who received medical and/or surgical treatment for breast cancer, and that these foods and phytonutrients should not be considered as alternatives to treatment,” the study emphasised.