Breast Cancer ChoicesTM
Scrutinizing the evidence for breast
cancer procedures and treatments
Food As Medicine - The Scientific Basis

  • Oranges.  Investigators have now found
    that oranges contain more than 170
    photochemicals, including more than 20
    from the potent carotenoid family alone. In
    addition, compounds called limonoids -
    which give citrus fruit their slightly bitter
    taste - appear to be highly active anti-
    cancer agents as well.

  • Tomatoes.  Besides loads of vitamin C,
    tomatoes are one of the richest sources
    of the flavonoid, lycopene.

  • Berries, particularly blueberries.  The rich,
    colored pigments of berries,
    belonging to the class of compounds
    known as flavonoids, have repeatedly
    been shown to protect against several

  • All cabbages - including their kin broccoli,
    cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts
    bok choy, red cabbage and red beets.

  • Asparagus contains a number of health-
    promoting phytochemicals capable of
    antifungal, antimutagenic, cytotoxic and
    antiviral activities. In a lab study, crude
    saponins (like lycopenes, in the terpenoid
    class of phytochemicals), obtained from
    asparagus, were found to have anti-tumor
    activity.  (See Shao Y et al., Anti-Tumor
    Activity of the Crude Saponins Obtained
    From Asparagus, Cancer Lett 1999.)

  • Spinach.  The University of Minnesota
    Environmental Health Services and others
    have found that people who include two
    or more servings of spinach per week in
    their nutrition have considerably lower
    lung and breast cancer rates.  

  • Garlic.  Studies show the sulphur
    compounds that give it its strong flavour
    have now been shown to protect against
    cancer by neutralizing carcinogens and
    slowing tumor growth. In a recent Iowa
    Women's Health study, investigators
    found that women who consume garlic at
    least once a week also have a 32% lower
    incidence of breast cancer.

  • Beans.  Research in the food sciences
    has established that all kinds of beans are
    loaded with protease inhibitors,
    compounds that make it hard for cancer
    cells to invade adjacent tissue.

  • Horseradish. This stimulating root is an
    excellent detox food. Stronger varieties
    have been studied for anti-cancer

    Which better prevented tumors, red grapes or green tea?  

    A May 2006 study found that the polyphenol, resveratrol, found in red grapes,
    is more effective than the polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the
    major catechin found in green tea in preventing breast tumors in rats.  Starting
    at birth, rats were given either dietary resveratrol, drank EGCG,  or had regular
    food.  At 50 days' old, the rats were given the carcinogen, DMBA.  The rats on
    resveratrol had fewer tumors, and there was a delay in time to the
    developmentof the tumors.  

    Analysis of the mammary tissue revealed that resveratrol treatment resulted in
    more differentiated lobular structures.  Plus,  there was a significant reduction
    in proliferative cells in mammary ductal structures, making the mammary tissue
    less susceptible to damage from carcinogens. (See Whitsett TG et al.,
    Resveratrol, but Not EGCG, in the Diet Suppresses DMBA-Induced Mammary
    Cancer in Rats, J Carcinog 2006.)

  • Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Fights Breast Cancer

    Inflammation is associated with a wide variety of cancers,
    including breast cancer.

    Women with atypical hyperplasia in benign tumors in their breasts, who went
    on to develop breast cancer, were found to have significantly high levels of
    COX-2, which is produced in the body when there is inflammation. (See
    Mechanisms' Section.) In a key 2005 study, curcumin, which is derived from
    turmeric, was found to down-regulate COX-2.  In India, where women consume
    curcumin, 79 in a million women develop breast cancer, while in the US, where
    women do not consume curcumin, 660 women per million develop breast
    cancer. (See Turmeric in Supplements' Section.)

  • Anti-Inflammatory Fish Oil Fights Breast Cancer

    Omega-3 fats, found in fish oil, inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in
    culture and in grafts in mice.  Dietary fish oils lead to incorporation into
    membrane lipids.  Increased cell death is attributed to inhibition of the COX-2,
    enzyme which promotes the cancer process. Plus, fish oil activates
    PPAR, a regulator of lipid metabolism capable of modulating proliferative
    activity in breast cells. (See Stoll BA, n-3 Fatty Acids and Lipid Peroxidation in
    Breast Cancer Inhibition, Br J Nutr  2002.)  Women in Japan who consume
    iodine-rich seafood have a lower incidence of breast cancer (See Iodine and
    Breast Disease.)

  • Cabbage Family's I3C's Anti- Breast Cancer Mechanisms

    The cabbage family, including cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, contain
    phytochemicals that act against cancer in many different ways. Cabbage, alone,
    has 200+ chemicals. There has been important new research on the
    phytochemical, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is derived from the cabbage
    family, finding that I3C influences cancer genes and a receptor site. Plus,
    phytochemicals in the cabbage family are able to induce phase 2 enzyme
    activity to protect against chemical carcinogens.

    In a 2006 Georgetown University study, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) phytochemicals
    in broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, were found to boost the production of
    DNA proteins BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 - that repair damaged DNA that are decreased
    in cancer cells.  (See Rosen E et al., Veggies May Protect Against Cancer,
    British Journal of Cancer 2006.)

    Dr. Eliot Rosen, the lead researcher in the Georgetown study, commented, "It
    is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by
    compounds in the things we eat.  Our findings suggest a clear molecular
    process that will explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."

    Another I3C study, a November 2005 study, exploring the anti-tumorigenic
    properties of the indole-3-carbinol food component in cruciferous vegetables,
    found that the anti-tumor effects of I3C in human cancer cells may be I3C's
    ability to reduce estrogen receptor-alpha expression.(See Wang TT et al.,
    Estrogen Receptor Alpha As a Target for Indole -3- Carbinol, J Nutr Biochem

    In a broccoli sprouts' study in rats,  broccoli sprouts were found to be an
    exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical
    carcinogens.  Extracts of three day old broccoli sprouts were highly effective
    in reducing the incidence, multiplicity, and rate of development of mammary
    tumors in rats. (See Fahey JW., Broccoli Sprouts: An Exceptionally Rich Source
    of Inducers of Enzymes that Protect Against Chemical Carcinogens, Proc Natl
    Acad Sci USA 1997.)

  • Berries Help Fight Breast Cancer

    A Harvard study tracking the diet and health of 1,271 people wholove
    strawberries found an overall 70% decrease in all cancers.  A 2004 cell study
    investigated the specific effects of ten different extracts of fruits and berries,
    including rosehips, blueberries, black currant, black chokeberries, apple, sea
    buckthorn, ligonberries, cherries, and raspberries, on breast cancer cells and
    colon cancer cells.  The extracts decreased the proliferation of both the breast
    cancer cells and the colon cancer cells.  The inhibition effect for the highest
    concentration of the fruits and berries varied - an average of 52% for the
    breast bancer cells.  Since this rate of anti-proliferation could not be found by
    ascorbate standard alone, there was a suggestion of a synergy between
    vitamin C and other substances.  For breast cancer cells, the anthocyanins ,
    which are the red to blue pigments founds in the fruits and belong to the class
    of compounds known as flavonoids, may contribute their powerful antioxidant
    power to the inhibition of the cancer cells. (See Olsson M. et al., Inhibition of
    Cancer Cell Proliferation in Vitro by Fruit and Berry Extracts and Correlations
    with Antioxidant Levels, J Agric Food Chem  2004.)

  • Tomatoes' Anti-Breast Cancer Mechanisms

    Hot News:  While carotenoids have been well known as being free-radical
    scavengers, a 2006 study sought to determine the mechanism of action of
    tomato carotenoid lycopene and retinoic acid on inhibiting IGFs - insulin-like
    growth factors - in the proliferation of cancer cells, including breast cancer
    cells.  In the cell study, the cyclin D1 levels, that act as a growth factor sensor,
    appeared to be the target of lycopene's action. The weakening of the cyclin D
    levels by the lycopene and the retinoic acid is an important mechanism for
    reducing the IGFs' role in malignant cell proliferation.  (See Nahum A et al.,
    Lycopene Inhibition of IGF-Induced Cancer Cell Growth Depends on the Level
    of Cyclin D1, Eur J  Nutr  2006.)

    Organic Strawberries Better Inhibited Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation

    Organically grown strawberries provided higher antioxidant levels and better
    inhibited cell proliferation than conventionally grown strawberries in breast
    cancer cells. In a 2006 study, the higher level of ascorbate (vitamin C)
    antioxidants found in organic strawberries correlated with a higher inhibition
    of breast cancer cell proliferation. The significance of the effect of ascorbate
    on cancer cell proliferation might be in a synergistic action with other
    compounds. (See Olsson ME et al.,Antioxidant Levels and Inhibition of cancer
    Cell Proliferation In Vitro By Extracts From Organically and Conventionally
    Cultivated Strawberries, J Agric Food Chem  2006.)
    These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  

    This website is intended as information only. The editors of this site are not medically-trained.
    Please consult your licensed health care practitioner before implementing any health strategy.

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    Web page updated June 20,  2012