Beyond Pink: A rainbow of colors may promote breast cancer survivorship

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

October is breast cancer awareness month and a perfect time to examine how including more plant foods like fruits, vegetables and fresh juice, can help to prevent cancer and promote survivorship.  A healthy diet, physical activity and weight management are linked to increased survival rates and better quality of life in breast cancer survivors. An estimated 38% of breast cancer cases may be preventable.

In the United States, 1 out of every 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.  In women under 45, African American women disproportionately will be diagnosed with the disease. As of 2011 there are an estimated 2.6 million breast cancer survivors.  Men are also at risk for breast cancer – about 1 out of 1,000.

Since nutrition and breast cancer is such an important and vast topic with a tremendous amount of valuable, controversial and often confusing information we’ve decided to present this as a series.  Today’s focus is on a few specific breast cancer fighting foods.

Cancer fighting foods – the 3 Cs:

Research has shown that certain plant foods offer specific compounds that can help to boost the immune system and fight breast cancer – Citrus, Crucifers and Carotenes.

Leave those peels on!  Preclinical (non human) studies have found that the phytonutrient limonene, rich in citrus peel oils, offer anti cancer benefits in breast cancer cells.  A recent study found that women who consumed citrus peel oils for 1 month had an increased level of this cancer fighting nutrient in their breast tissue.  If you leave lemon, lime, orange, clementine, grapefruit peels on when juicing, expect a zesty bitter flavor, look for organic and be sure to wash the peels well before juicing.

Try these citrusy juices:
Lemon Lime and Bitters Juice

Spicy Tart Juice

Lemon Lime Juice

Cruciferous vegetables are known to help promote natural detoxification via the activation of liver enzymes.  The American Cancer Society recommends that all cancer survivors strive for at least one serving from this family of veggies each day.  These important cancer fighting foods may offer specific benefit to women with a history of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.  A new study that will be published next month discovered how indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient prevalent in cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli and cabbage, can help disrupt the growth of estrogen dependent breast cancer cells.   Other cruciferous vegetables include radish, arugula, swiss chard, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Try these cruciferous veggie recipes and juices:
Bountiful Brassica Juice

Wilted Kale and Summer Squash Salad with Parsley

Kale and Avocado Salad

Green Detox Soup

Carotenes lend a beautiful orange glow to fall foods like pumpkin, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.  Consuming vegetables rich in this anti-oxidant has also been shown to help reduce the risk of breast cancer.  A recent study found a reduced risk of developing estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in women who consumed more carotene rich foods and previous studies have shown a carotenoid rich diet may reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer.  A study published earlier this year found that drinking carrot juice was effective in reducing oxidative stress in women previously treated for breast cancer.

Try these carotene rich recipes and juices:
Cinnamon Apple Squash Juice

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

Potato and Peach Soup

Squash and Apple Soup

What are your favorite citrus, carotene or cruciferous rich juices and other recipes?

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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