Diet and breast cancer: the power of fruits, vegetables, and soy

Credit: Bakd&Raw by Karolin Baitinger / Unsplash

Breast cancer is a big problem. It affects millions of people around the world, including in Asia. But what we eat could play a role in whether we get this disease.

In a new study, researchers wanted to dig deeper into this link, so they conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis.

That’s when they gather all the evidence from various studies and look at the overall picture.

How They Conducted the Study

The team made sure to stick to the guidelines set by PRISMA, a widely respected system for doing these kinds of reviews.

They looked at many different databases, including PubMed and Web of Science, up until December 2022. The team then pulled out the key numbers from each study.

This helped them get a sense of the overall effect of different foods and diets on breast cancer risk.

What The Team Discovered

The team found 15 studies that followed people over time and 34 studies that compared people with breast cancer to people without.

Here’s what they discovered when we put all the results together:

Fruits and vegetables might be protective. People who ate more of these foods had a 29% lower chance of getting breast cancer.

The picture was less clear for meat, soy foods, and green tea. These foods didn’t seem to be linked with breast cancer risk.

But when they looked at specific components of soy (soy protein and isoflavones), there was a link. People who ate more of these had a 35% and 32% lower chance of getting breast cancer, respectively.

The way we eat overall, or our “dietary pattern,” also matters. People who stuck to a healthy eating pattern had a 38% lower chance of getting breast cancer.

Similarly, those who scored high on a healthy eating index had a 51% lower chance. On the flip side, those who followed an unhealthy eating pattern had a 44% higher chance of getting the disease.

Alcohol was a risk factor. People who drank more had a 75% higher chance of getting breast cancer.

Wrapping It Up

This study suggests that what we eat can influence our chance of getting breast cancer. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and soy protein and isoflavones seems beneficial.

On the other hand, drinking more alcohol seems harmful.

The team also found that following a healthier overall diet might be protective. However, we need more studies to confirm these links, especially in the Asian population.

The research is published in Clinical Nutrition.

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