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Plant-Based Diet May Decrease Risk

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A healthy diet is an excellent way to take care of yourself, whether you're being treated for breast cancer or trying to lower your risk. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended by cancer experts as well as registered dietitians. Besides fruits and vegetables, a diet rich in plant foods includes whole grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, rice, pasta, and beans. Nutrition experts say that variety is key, because different fruits and vegetables have different nutrients and compounds. Lignans are a compound found in plant foods.

A large study (almost 60,000 women were in the study) found that women who ate foods high in lignans had a 17 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who didn't eat foods with a lot of lignans.

It's not clear how lignans work to reduce risk. We do know that lignans may have a weak estrogen effect. When a weak estrogen-like substance takes the place of your body's natural strong estrogen in a breast cell's estrogen receptor, then the weak substance can act as a relative anti-estrogen. By acting in this way, lignans might help work against breast cancer that depends on estrogen for its growth.

Visit the breastcancer.org Nutrition Section for more information on how to create a healthy diet and the role of diet in breast cancer treatment and prevention.

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