Foods That Can Lower Your Risk of Developing Cancer

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are very high in dietary fiber, which helps your body absorb fat and regulate blood glucose levels. Elevated blood glucose levels over a long period of time are a risk factor for developing Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.3

Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced diet that promotes a healthy weight. A great way to insure that you are getting a good variety of fruits and vegetables is to go by their color. Eat several different colors of fruits and vegetables and avoid eating only green ones. Try to eat different varieties of them as well, such as cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, citrus and non-citrus fruits. Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Try a variety of them, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Antioxidants alone will not prevent breast cancer but it will contribute to the overall health of your body and your immune system.

Whole Grains, Nuts and Seeds

Whole grains, nuts and seeds are particularly important for those with diabetes, and are overweight or obese. Dietary fiber in these foods help regulate blood glucose and slow the process of digestion, keeping an individual from feeling hungry for longer periods of time between meals.

However, research has also shown that many whole grains contain a chemical group known as lignans. These are actually phytoestrogens or plant based estrogen components that work in the body as antioxidants as well as boosting estrogen levels. Some of the good sources of lignans in whole grains include:

  • Flax seed
  • Sesame seed
  • Oats
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley

The highest concentration of lignans is in whole wheat bran and grains, which is removed during processing of refined grain products. Consuming a diet that has a high concentration of lignans has actually been shown to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats come from plants, not animals, so they do not contain the unhealthy saturated fats that are linked to breast and colon cancer as well as cardiovascular disease and obesity. The most common types of monounsaturated fats include olive oil and canola oil. Very recent studies indicate that the oleic acid in olive oil helps reduce the risk of developing breast cancer or its recurrence. In fact, they report that oleic acid may work synergistically with hormone therapy drugs, specifically trastuzumab.5  Nutrition is a very promising area of study that may lead to the use of specific types of food as a part of alternative breast cancer therapy and as an adjunct in conventional therapy.


1 American Cancer Society. (2004). A Breast Cancer Journey: Your Personal Guidebook. Atlanta: American Cancer Society.

2 Klimberg, S. V. (1998). Nutrition and Breast Cancer. Nutrition in Clinical Practice , 263-266.

3 Lissowska, J., Gaudet, M. M., Brinton, L. A., et al (2008). Intake of fruits, and vegetables in relation to breast cancer risk by hormone receptor status. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment , 113-117.

4 Cotterchio, M., Boucher, B. A., Kreiger, N., et al. (2008). Dietary phytoestrogen intake—lignans and isoflavones—and breast cancer risk (Canada). Cancer Causes and Control , 259-272.

5 Menendez, J. A., Vellon, L., Colomer, R., & Lupu, R. (2005). Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, suppresses Her-2/neu (erbB-2) expression and synergistically enhances the growth inhibitory effects of trastuzumab (Herceptin™) in breast cancer cells with Her-2/neu oncogene amplification . Annals of Oncology , 359-371.

This article was originally published on July 27,2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/2/2015.