15 Foods to Prevent Breast Cancer

Spices and supplements

Capsaicin

Both dried and fresh chili peppers contain capsaicin. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it has. Until recently, capsaicin has been primarily known as an effective topical treatment for pain.

One small 2016 study found that capsaicin may prevent the growth and spread of malignant cells in some people with breast cancer. The study was performed in a laboratory on tissue samples procured from women with different types of breast cancer.

Tissues from those with triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer received the most promising results. This type of cancer is very aggressive and can be hard to treat because it doesn’t respond to hormonal therapy.

Researchers indicated that it isn’t possible to eat enough chili peppers to duplicate the results they got in the lab. Capsaicin can be purchased as a supplement, but ingesting too much can cause irritation to your digestive tract.

Currently, no specific dosage recommendation exists for capsaicin’s use in fighting breast cancer.

Garlic

Part of the allium vegetable family, garlic is known for its distinctive taste and aroma. There may be a connection between increased intake of garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, and a reduction in the growth of breast cancer cells.

Researchers in one 2017 study analyzed the effects of garlic and other allium vegetables on breast cancer cells. They found a positive effect on both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent breast cancer.

While promising, more research on garlic and breast cancer risk is needed to determine conclusive results and a dosage recommendation.

Turmeric

A spice associated with Indian cuisine, turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Some research suggests that curcumin may help decrease the toxic effects of certain breast cancer cells and can potentially inhibit cancer cell growth. More research is needed to determine its full effects on cancerous cells.

Curcumin is unstable in water and may be poorly absorbed. Despite curcumin’s instability, many animal and human studies to date do show benefit from taking curcumin.

Currently, there isn’t a scientific consensus on recommended daily dosage, though common dosages in studies producing benefits range from 200 to 500 milligrams of curcumin daily.

Whether to avoid foods containing isoflavones

Some foods, such as soy products, contain natural chemicals called isoflavones. These are similar in structure to the hormone estrogen. Isoflavone-rich foods are also known as phytoestrogen-rich foods.

Isoflavones bind to the same sites that estrogen does, but yield different outcomes in your body. For example, estrogen can increase inflammation in certain areas of your body, and isoflavones don’t.

Intake of isoflavones is controversial, but a 2016 comprehensive reviewputs to rest many fears that soy and other isoflavone foods may raise breast cancer risk. In fact, some research suggests that isoflavones carry positive health benefits, including anticancer properties.

When consuming soy, it’s best to choose whole soy foods. These include:

  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • miso
  • edamame
  • soy milk

If you’re currently eating a diet containing high amounts of isoflavones, limit your intake until you’re able to talk with your doctor. They can assess your overall risk and provide individual guidance.