Wearing pink may help raise awareness about breast cancer, but eating green—healthy vegan foods—can actually help prevent the disease. Perhaps that’s why not only is October just Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s also World Vegetarian Month. If you want to go both pink and green, try Pink Lady apples, pink grapefruit, or rhubarb instead of buying unhealthy processed foods with a ribbon stamped on the label.
Prevent Breast Cancer with a Plant-Based Diet
Studies have shown that women who eat wholesome plant-based foods, which are rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals, are less likely to develop breast cancer than women who eat meat, eggs, and dairy products. These foods contain concentrated protein, saturated fat, and hormones, all of which raise your risk of developing cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who stars in of the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives, has said that “no chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.”
Related Reading: 10 Foods to Prevent Cancer
As many as one-third of common types of cancer, including breast cancer, are linked to excess weight and inactivity. It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight if you eat plant-based foods, which are generally low in fat and calories, rather than animal-based foods. Studies show that vegans are nine times less likely to be obese than meat-eaters are and that vegans are about 40 percent less likely to get cancer than nonvegans are.
High-fat animal-based foods raise estrogen levels, accelerating the growth of cancer cells. Dairy products, in particular, contain excess hormones, reportedly accounting for 60 to 80 percent of the estrogen that many women consume.
In contrast, plant-based foods tend to keep estrogen at a safe level and may even ward off cancer. The Harvard Nurses Health Study, which followed 86,000 U.S. nurses for 26 years, indicates that women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by 20 to 30 percent just by eating more vegetables.
Whole soy foods, including tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame (soy beans), might also protect women against breast cancer. Researchers with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center followed more than 5,000 breast cancer survivors in China for about four years and found that those who ate 15 grams of soy protein or more a day had a 29 percent lower risk of dying and a 32 percent lower risk of a recurrence compared to those who consumed less than about 5 grams of soy protein per day. National Cancer Institute researchers have also found that young girls who eat soy foods are less likely to develop breast cancer as they age.
PETA has free vegan recipes and tips on transitioning to a vegan diet for anyone who wants to reduce his or her risk of cancer and save animals at the same time. Remember: Whenever you see pink this month, consider it a reminder to eat green.
Image Credit: Breast Cancer Awareness photo via Shutterstock