The Big Picture
What you eat affects your weight, and obesity raises your odds for breast cancer. If you’ve already had the disease, extra pounds can also make it more likely to return. If you choose a healthy diet — one rich in vegetables, whole grains, chicken, and fish — you may boost your chances of living longer after breast cancer. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why that’s true, but the long-term benefits aren’t in doubt.
Is Soy Safe?
Soy-based foods — such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame — have chemicals called phytoestrogens, which are similar to estrogen. That once raised fears that they spelled trouble for women with breast cancer that uses estrogen as fuel to grow. But the latest studies show soy doesn’t raise cancer risk — it may even lower the odds the disease will return. Be wary of soy supplements, though. Scientists haven’t studied their effects as much.
Should You Skip Sugar?
The idea that sweets “feed cancer” has been around for a long time. The truth is more complicated. A spoonful to take the edge off your coffee will not directly make cancer cells grow faster. But it’s still wise to keep an eye on how much you add to your diet. A lot of sugar on a regular basis can lead to obesity and other conditions that make cancer more likely.
Eat More Produce
If you eat more plant-based foods, you may lower your chances of getting breast cancer. Researchers say this strategy especially may help protect against the most aggressive types of tumors. Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of a diet that will help you control your weight, which is key for keeping breast cancer from coming back.