To avoid breast cancer risks, adopt the Mediterranean diet

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among South Africa women.

According to radiologist and former chairperson of the Breast Cancer Imaging of South Africa, Dr Eugene Jooste, roughly one in 28 women will have cancer in their lifetime; furthermore, one in eight women from urban areas is likely to develop breast cancer. While we must consider other factors, late detection, unhealthy diets, and poor lifestyle choices can increase the risks of breast cancer.

In South Africa, most women, especially those in rural areas and low-income household, do not have access to adequate cancer screening facilities. Regular cancer screening, coupled with a healthy diet, may minimise the development of cancerous cells; hence the need for a healthy and balanced diet.

“Foods such as butter, dairy products, and red meat contain saturated fats. You should limit these, with foods high in sugar, and processed foods because they do not contain sufficient fibre which is scientifically proven to reduce oestrogen production in the body,” says Omy Naidoo, Registered Dietician, founder and dietician at Newtricion Wellness.

According to Naidoo, one of the most studied dietary plans worldwide is the Mediterranean diet. This diet comprises foods that can lessen risks and help the body fight against cancerous cells. It consists of foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish as well as extra virgin olive oil.

“Mediterranean diet foods exert an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. A lot of the time, the cancer development process is due to oxidised damage – there is a low-grade inflammation that eventually ignites the cancer generation process or worsens it. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain a lot of fibre and polyphenols that are significant in the reduction of oestrogen levels, which plays a vital role in the cancer development process,” says Naidoo.

While breast cancer is genetically inherited, poor dietary and lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol abuse are some of the leading contributing risk factors that people need to be cautious of in the development of breast cancer.