Why Eating Fish May Protect You From Breast Cancer

Why Eating Fish May Protect You From Breast Cancer

When it comes to breast cancer prevention and diet, serving up a fatty fish twice a week, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, may offer protective benefits. Because eating fish may protect you from breast cancer. These oily-type fish are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the collective research on their role in breast cancer prevention is encouraging.

To date, numerous studies have looked at whether there’s a connection between monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the diet and breast cancer prevention. Some studies have shown an association, while others have been inconclusive.

Research on PUFAs

The new research hones in on PUFAs that come from omega 3s found in certain types of fish. To try to pin down just how promising, researchers from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China thoroughly analyzed research from 21 studies. Involving 800,000 women from the United States, Asia, and Europe, and 20,000 cases of breast cancer. Their findings, published in the June 27, 2013, British Medical Journal, concluded:

A diet rich in marine-based PUFAs is linked to lowering a woman’s risk for breast cancer by as much as 14 percent. Fish contains a type of n-3 PUFA known as DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. Researchers defined “rich” as one to two servings of oily fish per week. (Don’t assume more fish offers more protection; fish contains mercury, a toxin that is harmful in large amounts.)

Researchers were quick to point out that while the results are encouraging, it’s too soon to tell whether this is a direct cause and effect response, or if there are other factors involved as well. Such as women who eat fish have healthier habits overall, including exercising regularly, for instance.

For women who wish to lower their risk for breast cancer. It makes sense to add oily fish such as salmon or sardines to the diet twice a week.

Kathleen T. Ruddy, MD

Dr. Kathleen T. Ruddy, MD is a breast Cancer Surgeon, founder, president, and executive director of the Breast Health & Healing Foundation.

Breast Health & Healing Foundation is an organization dedicated to research and prevention of breast cancer. Moreover, this institute is the author of the forthcoming book on the breast cancer virus. This year alone, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 232,340 women will be diagnosed with this disease, and 39,620 will die this year from breast cancer.

How do fish protect from cancer?

So what’s the possible connection between these fishy PUFAs and reduced breast cancer risk? According to the BMJ release about the study, “PUFAs are involved in chemical messaging in the brain, helping to regulate blood vessel activity and areas of the immune system.” In one study involving mice with breast cancer tumors, mice who were fed marine PUFAs experienced slowed tumor growth and had fewer growths overall when compared to the control group of mice with breast cancer who were not fed marine PUFAs. Fish-derived PUFAs may also help lower estrogen levels. Certain types of breast cancer tumors are dependent on estrogen to grow.

The researchers also looked at alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another type of omega 3 PUFA, that’s found in plants, not seafood. Rich sources include nuts, especially walnuts and Brazil nuts, salad greens such as spinach, and certain oils such as those in flaxseed. The studies that were reviewed found no correlation between ALA as a protective fatty acid for breast cancer.

However, Dr. Ruddy suggests:

You may want to include these plant foods as part of your cancer-protective diet. She recommends nuts, especially walnuts, and a large salad each day. Why? There’s evidence to show that ALAs can convert into DHA and EPAs. Foods with ALAs are also rich in other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. Greens and nuts provide a different types of omega 3. Fish and nuts/greens are the ideal combo to insure you get the full spectrum of omegas every day.

Dr. Ruddy

If your diet falls short in the omega-3 department, consider a fish oil supplement that contains at least 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, and then add 2 ounces of walnuts and a green salad every day. Hence, it is evident that eating fish may protect you from breast cancer.

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