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5 cancer-fighting foods you should be eating

By Kateri Wozny, Contributing writer
Published On: Oct 11 2011 12:44:25 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2013 09:08:55 AM CDT
breast_cancer_healthyeating

iStockPhoto/lisafx

Women may think they are eating all the right foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but there are certain foods that can help lower the risk of the second-leading cause of cancer death among women: breast cancer.

Breast cancer causes more than 40,000 deaths per year and one in eight million women will experience breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Maybe you've seen women wearing a pink ribbon pin to symbolize their fight breast cancer, know of someone who has the disease or even know of someone who died from it.

Research studies have found cancer-fighting benefits in certain types of food. No food will prevent women from getting breast cancer, but experts say if women eat well and stick to a low-fat, healthy diet, it could lower the risk significantly.

Before you head out to your next grocery store visit, here's a list of breast cancer fighting foods to add to your diet ...

tomatoes on white background

No. 5: Tomatoes

You say tomato, we say tomahto.

No matter which way you say it, tomatoes are an excellent fruit (and vegetable when cooking!) to help reduce the risk of breast cancer. They contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and kills cells that aren't growing properly.

Lycopene can also reduce the formation of new blood vessels of breast cancer by reducing or blocking tumor growth, according to the American Cancer Society.

Cherry tomatoes are even higher in lycopene because of the skin to flesh ratio. Experts say cooked or processed tomato-based foods also contain the most lycopene because the body absorbs it more easily.

Studies have shown that women who eat tomatoes or tomato products about twice a week reduce their risk by 30 to 50 percent. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Up next, the green you never wanted to eat as a child ...

broccoli stalks on white background

No. 4: Broccoli
Mother always said to eat your broccoli at the dinner table ... and mother knows best.

Broccoli is considered a cruciferous vegetable, a vegetable of the cabbage family. Turns out that beta-carotene machine contains sulforaphane, a natural component that controls tumor growths and prevents new tumors from forming. Broccoli sprouts contain even more sulforaphane, up to 20 times more.

Studies have shown that broccoli reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Broccoli has also been shown to possibly block the late stages of the breast cancer process, according to a 2008 study out of California-Berkeley.

Broccoli should be eaten two to five times a week steamed or sautéed in olive oil. It also contains Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and fiber. Not too bad for the green you never wanted to eat as a child.

Our next food might as well be called "the brain berry" ...

blueberries closeup

No. 3: Blueberries

Blueberries are not only sweet and turn your tongue blue, they are a good source of resveratrol (found mostly on the skin of the blueberry), which is known to increase the effects of radiation against breast cancer.

They are also a great source of anthocyanins, which reduce the increase of breast cancer cells. A City of Hope study published in the October 2011 issue of The Journal Of Nutrition found that blueberries may also control tumor growth by 60 to 75 percent.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants and have been shown to work more effectively when drinking milk after protein is consumed an hour or two beforehand.

Dietary experts recommended to eat blueberries three to four times per week. A half a cup of blueberries contains more antioxidants than any other berry. They are also packed with a ton of Vitamin C and can be eaten with cereal, yogurt, in smoothies or even alone.

It's not bad to feel like Violet Beauregarde.

Before we continue, care for a spot of tea, dear? ...

green tea teabag

No. 2: Green Tea

Green tea is a popular drink to calm the mind, engage in good conversation with friends and can even help prevent breast cancer.

It contains cathechins, which stops the growth of cancer cells and reduces the size of cancerous tumors. Green tea also contains the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which helps the body's cells from becoming damaged and aging prematurely.

Studies have shown that survival rate for breast cancer tripled for women who drank three or more cups of tea a day. For example, one study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention found that women who did this were 37 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn't drink green tea.

Studies have also found that increased consumption of green tea was correlated with decreased the recurrence of stages I and II breast cancer.

Green tea is also full of Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C and Vitamin K and can be absorbed anytime throughout the day.

Last up, it's time for some dry oil ...

flaxseed closeup

No. 1: Flaxseed

Flaxseed may not seem like an appealing food, but studies have found that the seeds reduce movement of breast cancer cells and prevent them from sticking to one another.

Flaxseed contains lignans, a plant based estrogen, and omega-3 fatty acids. When a weak estrogen-like substance takes the place of the body's natural estrogen in a breast cell's estrogen receptor, then the weak substance can act as an anti-estrogen.

Eating flaxseed can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer by 40 percent, according to a recent study out of the German Cancer Research Centre. If the seeds are ground up, your body has an easier time getting to the lignans. Flaxseeds also contain Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and are an excellent source of fiber.

Flaxseed can be eaten in yogurt, cereal or salads. They also come in flavors.

So, go ahead, plant those seeds in your tummy.

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