Diane May Nutrition Blog

Breast Health and Nutrition

October 25th, 2014

October is breast cancer awareness month, so I wanted to discuss breast health and nutrition.  Although you can’t change certain risk factors, such as genetic predisposition, there are many lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.  In a study published 2007 in the British Medical Journal, there was a direct relationship between increased body mass and increased risk for developing breast cancer. Maintaining weight after menopause is important for reducing your risk. Obese women circulate higher levels of estrogen, which puts them at greater risk.
  • Limit/eliminate alcohol. Women should consume no more than one drink a day. Alcohol consumption increases your risk of developing breast cancer. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that even moderate alcohol consumption led to a greater incidence of breast cancer.
  • Keep moving. Physical activity has been linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer. In a 1999 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, all physical activity is beneficial in reducing the incidence of breast cancer. It is recommended that you do 5 days a week of aerobic activity for thirty minutes and 2 days a week of weight bearing exercise.
  • Don’t smoke. A study done by the American Cancer Society in 2013 showed that smoking increases your risk of developing breast cancer. If you already smoke, there are many programs available to assist you in quitting.  Smoking is associated with many cancers and cessation is the best thing you can do for your overall health.
  • Breast feed if you can.  Although there is limited research in regard to breast feeding and reduction of breast cancer risk, a study published in the Lancet in 2002 suggested that the longer a woman breast fed, the lower her risk of breast cancer.

So, from a nutrition standpoint, what are some things you can do to reduce your risk of both breast cancer and other chronic illnesses:

  • Eat a predominantly plant based diet.  Make sure you get 8 to 10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables daily. Vary the color to make sure you get all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs.
  • Consume 30 to 45 grams of fiber daily. Fiber comes from fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  Fiber binds to toxic compounds and cholesterol and is eliminated by the body. Some good sources of fiber include: Apples, blueberries, grapefruit, orange, pear, black beans, chickpeas, oatmeal, quinoa, broccoli, spinach, squash and carrots.
  • Limit processed foods. If its pre-made, in a box, try and avoid it. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the side of the box, you probably shouldn’t eat it!  Avoid white foods: pasta, rice, flour, sugar and potato and baked goods.
  • Keep your diet low fat.  Consume only low fat/non fat dairy and eat lean protein such as chicken, turkey, fish and 97% ground beef.  20% of your total calories should come from fat with less than 8% coming from saturated fat. Avoid trans fat altogether.
  • Increase healthy fats. Omega 3, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), and omega 6 are all good.  Healthy oils such as olive and canola, fatty fish, nuts and seeds should be in everyones diet.
  • Eliminate alcohol. No more than one serving daily.
  • Get adequate fluids. As you increase fiber, you will need to increase fluid. Fluids do many things for the body: carries nutrients and waste, participates in chemical reactions, aides in temperature regulation, maintains blood volume and is a natural lubricant. Keep all your fluids calorie free.

Making these lifestyle changes and maintaining a healthy diet can help your reduce your risk of breast cancer and can help your survival if you are already fighting the disease.


Maple-Walnut Apple Crisp

Jean Kressy, Cooking Light

Breast Cancer and Nutrition




  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 7 cups sliced peeled Rome apple (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, oats, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.
  3. Combine apple and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon apple mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 208
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 7.1g
  • Saturated fat: 3.4g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1.9g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.3g
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Carbohydrate: 36.5g
  • Fiber: 2.3g
  • Cholesterol: 14mg
  • Iron: 0.9mg
  • Sodium: 58mg
  • Calcium: 27mg