BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Did you know that breast cancer affects more than 200,000 women annually? As we enter October, I wanted to acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness month with specific nutritional tips designed to help you minimize your risk of cancer. You can’t change your family history, but you can change your nutritional habits—and that could go a long way in protecting your health.
My main recommendation for breast health is to consume cruciferous vegetables and increase your intake of dietary fiber. Cruciferous, or brassica vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are rich sources of sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. Compounds derived from glucosinolates include indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C).
Research shows that with I-3-C activation, markers of risk for breast cancer are reduced. In one case-control study, women who ate more cruciferous vegetables were found to have a 40% reduction in risk of breast cancer.
The evidence for this is largely related to the vegetables’ ability to modify estrogen metabolism. Estrogen can be metabolized by three main compounds:
16-hydroxyestrone is the potent, dangerous compound that has been shown to stimulate proliferation of breast cancer cells. It has about 10 times more estrogenic activity than 2-hydroxyestrone, which is not thought to stimulate breast cancer cell proliferation. The latter presumably has anti-estrogenic properties.
Studies show that women with breast cancer have a lower 2:16-hydroxyestrone ratio than women without breast cancer. Fortunately, this ratio is believed to be modifiable by diet—I3C has been shown to raise the ratio by stimulating the production of 2-hydroxyestrone.
The proposed mechanisms of I-3-C reveal a window into the power of consuming lightly-cooked cruciferous vegetables. As an isolated substance, I3C is still under close scrutiny for safety and experts don’t recommend taking it as a supplement. As always, my primary recommendation is to consume lots of cruciferous vegetables which likely have other beneficial elements and provide positive, synergistic effects on your body.
To your good health,
Click to receive recipes, healthy insight and seasonal information in Karen’s periodic newsletter.