Holly Pevzner

You can lower your risk for breast cancer by reaching for the right foods, according to five new studies.

"A woman can cut her chance of cancer by as much as two-thirds with good nutrition and weight management," says Cheryl L. Rock, Ph.D., R.D., professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. "Even a woman who carries the BRCA1 or 2 gene (two genetic mutations that boost a woman's risk) can reduce her risk."

Fill your diet with lean protein and plentiful produce--to help keep your weight in check and provide cancer-fighting compounds. Good choices:

1. Salmon

Taking fish-oil supplements for at least 10 years can shrink your risk of ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer, according to a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. It's thought that the omega-3 fats in fish oil reduce inflammation, which may contribute to breast cancer. But you can skip the supplement aisle, say researchers, and eat about 8 ounces of oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) a week.

2. Olive Oil

Here's another reason to reach for extra- virgin olive oil: When researchers in Barcelona gave rats with breast cancer a diet in which fat came predominantly from extra-virgin olive oil (vs. corn oil), they found that the olive oil's antioxidants and oleic acid (a mono- unsaturated fat) quelled the growth of malignant cells.

3. Broccoli

Sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli, reduced the number of breast cancer stem cells (which cause cancer spread and recurrence) in mice, according to research from the University of Michigan. Eating broccoli may not deliver enough sulforaphane to achieve the same effect, but to get the most you can, eat your broccoli raw or briefly steam or stir-fry the green florets. (Boiling destroys some of the sulforaphane.)

4. Parsley

University of Missouri scientists found that this herb can actually inhibit cancer-cell growth. Animals that were given apigenin, a compound abundant in parsley (and in celery), boosted their resistance to developing cancerous tumors. Experts recommend adding a couple pinches of minced fresh parsley to your dishes daily.

5. Coffee

Drinking about two 12-ounce coffees a day may lower your risk of an aggressive form of breast cancer, says a May 2011 study in Breast Cancer Research.

"One possibility is that coffee's antioxidants protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer," says study author Jingmei Li, Ph.D. More research is needed, so don't up your intake based on these figures just yet.


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Health - Eating Well: 5 Foods For Breast Cancer Prevention