Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Lifestyle Changes Cut Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers Say Exercise and Diet May Prevent Some Cases of Breast Cancer

Plant-Based Diet

Nutritionist Colleen Doyle, RD, of the American Cancer Society, tells WebMD that although no single food, food group, or nutrient has been shown to lower breast cancer risk, it is clear that eating a healthy, mostly plant-based diet is protective.

A red meat and processed meat-heavy diet is now known to increase the risk for colorectal cancer, and there is some suggestion that these foods increase breast cancer risk as well.

Doyle says the research attempting to target the role of single foods, food group, or nutrient in breast cancer has largely been a bust.

"Years ago, we recommended limiting all fats and that evolved into limiting saturated fats," she says. "Now we have moved away from specific food-based recommendations to focusing on an overall dietary pattern stressing a wide variety of mostly plant-based foods."

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) also recommends a mostly plant-based diet to lower cancer risk. To promote the idea, the group has developed what it calls the "new American plate" to replace the more traditional meal that has meat as its main component and refined starches as a mainstay.

AICR nutritionist Alice Bender, RD, tells WebMD that at least two-thirds of the "new" plate should be plant-based, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or beans; no more than one-third of any meal should come from animal protein.

"This is an easy way to visualize what a healthy diet should look like," she says. "It's really pretty simple."

1|2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW