The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa discusses the results of two recent studies that help to empower women to make healthy food choices.

broccoli-1328937According to the latest national trends for women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates continue to be higher than those for any other cancer, except for lung cancer. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of a lifetime, and approximately 85 percent of those breast cancers will occur in women who have no family history of the disease. This is thought to occur due to genetic mutations as a result of the aging process combined unknown factors of life.

Statistics such as these only serve to demonstrate the importance of taking steps to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in the first place. Two studies out this month help to provide important clues as to what women can do to improve the likelihood of long term breast health, namely eating healthy, and knowing what to eat.

The Correlation Between High Fiber Diet and Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Women who eat more high-fiber foods during adolescence and young adulthood may have a lower breast cancer risk than those who don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables when young, according to a new large-scale study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Similar studies conducted recently have clearly demonstrated that breast tissue is highly susceptible to carcinogens, especially during childhood and adolescence. The study released just this month, helped to provide evidence that the types of foods children get during this period of life is also an important factor in a woman’s lifetime risk of developing cancer.

In another exciting study that correlates nutrition and breast cancer risk was conducted by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and the Oregon Health and Science University. This group was focused on the particular anti-cancer properties of sulforophane, a sulfur-containing compound found primarily in leafy green vegetables, including broccoli. Following up on previous evidence that seemed to show that sulforaphane might help prevent cancer the OSU research team also determined that sulforophane containing vegetables have the potential to actually slow breast cancer cell growth, especially at early stages.

The OSU group focused on broccoli but studies in the past have also established an association between a high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, or kale and a decreased risk of breast cancer. Researchers speculated that eating more fiber-rich foods may also lessen breast cancer risk partly by helping to reduce high estrogen levels in the blood, which are strongly linked with breast cancer development.

The Big-Picture Approach to Breast Health

Lela Emad, MDThe Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of Santa Rosa have long advocated to patients the importance of taking a dietary approach to maintaining overall health. “With studies like these we can only stress the importance of making lifestyle changes that support breast health,” says Dr. Lela Emad, MD. “A healthy approach to nutrition combined with routine breast exams and general awareness of how to maintain breast health are important elements in living a healthy lifestyle.”

Screening methods such as regular self-breast exams, breast checks during routine gynecologic exams, and screening mammographies can all help to detect breast problems early-on. Early treatment of breast problems can contribute to the success of any treatment that is needed.

Self-check breast exams are easy to perform at home and should be conducted monthly in addition to scheduling an annual breast exam with an OB/GYN healthcare provider. Depending on a woman’s age and individual health, a more frequent interval of regular check-ups may be recommended. “Self-care is important but we also recommend that patients who suspect a breast health problem contact a provider immediately,” added Dr. Emad.

About Women’s OBGYN Medical Group

The provider team of expert OB/GYN physicians, certified nurse midwives, family nurse practitioners, and medical assistants provides unmatched care to patients in our region. As women proudly serving women, we understand the needs and expectations of our patients. For more information, visit our website or call (707) 579-1102. We urge you to contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians if you suspect that you may have any breast health problems.