Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal cell growth and can occur in any organ. In some ways the genes lose control of cell growth, and reproduction becomes unstructured and excessive.
The recent alarm on rising global incidence of cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO) should worry African countries including Nigeria, where the disease is most prevalent.
Breast cancer accounts for 40 per cent of women cancers, closely followed by cervical cancer of 17.9 per cent, lymphomas and ovarian cancer are next. Experts have predicted that by 2020, the number of cancer patients in Nigeria is going to rise from 24 million to 42 million as speculated 21 years ago. It is also feared that by same 2020, death rates from cancer in Nigerian males and females may reach 72.7/100,000 and 76/100,000 respectively.
Good nutrition may reduce the incidence of breast cancer and risk of breast cancer progression or recurrence.There appear to be associations between food and cancer- both good and bad. For example certain substances in food are thought to be carcinogenic, nitrites in cure and smoked food such as bacon, and ham can be changed to nitrosamines (carcinogens) during cooking, also high fat diets have been associated with breast cancer.
Newer studies point to dietary changes that can offer the most hope for preventing breast cancer or re-occurrence.
What increases the risk of developing breast cancer:
- Over the age of 50(though younger women also develop breast cancer)
- Having a family history of cancer
- Exposed to a high level of the hormone Estrogen. This may occur if you have never, given birth or if you had your first menstrual period at a young age.
- Overweight or obese especially after menopause
- Drinking alcohol, whether you choose beer, wine or liquor, drinking too much alcohol may increase breast cancer risk
- Eating a high fat diet, a low fat diet may help prevent weight gain, which in turn may prevent breast cancer risk
Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
- Plant Based Diets
- Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables. Note; Vibrant intense color is one indicator of Phyto nutrient content
- High Fibre- whole grains and beans/legumes
- Limit Red Meat; avoid processed meat such as sausage, delimeat and hot dogs
- Low fat diet with emphasis on Healthy fats
- Limit processed and refined Grains (flours) and sugar
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Be physically active to help achieve and maintain healthy weight Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains daily, avoiding processed and high-sugar foods, and being physically active are very important ways we can take control of our risk of cancer.