Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens may reduce breast cancer risk10 years ago | Cancer
By pH health care professionals
The hormone estrogen plays an important role in a woman’s health throughout her life. It is necessary for the development and growth of breasts, ovaries and the uterus; regulates the menstrual cycle; and is essential for reproduction. Estrogen also plays an important role in having a healthy heart and bones.
The downside to all these benefits, however, is that a woman’s risk for breast cancer is associated with how much exposure she has to estrogen over the course of her life. It is believed estrogen plays a role in the development of breast cancer because of its:
- Role in stimulating breast cell division
- Work during the critical periods of breast growth and development
- Effect on other hormones that stimulate breast cell division
- Support of the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors
Minimizing exposure to estrogen naturally
Simple changes to diet may affect the levels of estrogen in a woman’s body and reduce her lifetime exposure to this hormone. Consuming a diet rich in phytoestrogens (the word “phyto” is from the Greek word for plant), for example, has been proposed as a way to decrease breast cancer risk. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as certain spices and herbs. Certain types of soy are generally touted as having phytoestrogens that reduce breast cancer. But the studies so far have not provided a clear answer.
Some studies show that women with a diet high in phytoestrogens, including vegans (who eat no animal foods) have lower rates of breast cancer. Phytoestrogens are weak plant estrogens, and may prevent stronger human estrogens from binding to the estrogen receptors in the body. This, in turn, reduces overall lifetime exposure to estrogen
Because estrogen is also produced in body fat, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a diet rich in low-fat and high-fiber foods may also decrease the levels of estrogen in the body. Obesity is thought to increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
Be proactive and enjoy your healthy life!
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