We hear a lot about which nutrients and foods can help prevent breast cancer, like strawberries, blueberries, green tea and fish oil, but what about certain foods to avoid? Yes, we know alcohol (like we talked about last week) and coffee have made the list in the past, but did you know that other foods like avocados and peanut butter are also considered to affect our risk for breast cancer?
According to an interesting site, FoodForBreastCancer.com, there are at least several dozen foods that make the “don’t eat” list. Here are seven that I found most interesting–and completely unexpected:
Sage Tea. Sage may have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant property and even stop colon cancer cell growth and some menopause symptoms, but because it also stimulates the uterus and reduces lactation in women, enough is not known about exactly how it affects the breasts, so it is not recommended.
Guacamole. They may contain a nice dose of healthy fats, but one study found that a diet high in avocado oil promoted the formation of mammary tumors in rats. Another study associated them with higher estrogen levels, which can be linked to breast cancer.
Sunflower Oil. It’s loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamin E, but some research suggests that it promotes mammary tumor development. Generally speaking, this effect has not been confirmed, although another study found that some who consumed a significant amount of linoleic acid (which is found in sunflower oil) had an increased risk of breast cancer, and another one found increased breast cancer risk among women cooking primarily with vegetable or corn oil compared to olive or canola oil.
Shellfish. One study found that breast development in young girls was significantly positively associated with consumption of shellfish and processed meat. One component, an algal toxin that can accumulate in edible mollusks, has been shown to interfere with the tumor suppressive functions in breast cancer and other cancer cells, and heavy metals found in some contaminated shellfish have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. While individual components of shellfish, such as omega 3 fatty acids, have been shown to be preventative against breast cancer, shellfish consumption is more likely to increase the risk of breast cancer than to be protective.
Lima Beans. They have high levels of iron, potassium, molybdenum and fiber, but extracts of lima beans have been found to increase proliferation of estrogen and progesterone responsive human breast cancer cells. In and of itself, this is not strong evidence that lima bean consumption increases breast cancer risk, however it is a troubling result that requires further study.
Peanut Butter. Peanuts typically are infected to some extent with molds which are carcinogenic in humans. Peanuts have been shown in several studies to stimulate proliferation of colon cancer cells and the fumes have been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer. While not proven to cause breast cancer per se, peanuts can cause cancer and should be avoided by those at a high risk for breast cancer.
Lavender. This essential oil can cause breast enlargement in otherwise healthy and normal boys through its estrogenic activity, therefore, the potential for stimulation of estrogen positive breast cancer cells are enough to make it something to avoid.