Better Breasts


Susie Perry Debice, BSc, Nutritional Therapist

Year of publication: 

According to the NHS breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women with more than 45,500 new cases diagnosed each year. Genetics is considered a major risk factor, but you can still reduce your risk of developing breast complaints though good nutritional changes.

Increasing iodine

It’s reported that iodine deficiency goes hand in hand with increased incidence of breast disease. And vice versa, countries with diets rich in iodine have low incidence of breast disease. Research indicates that iodine has an antioxidant effect on breast cells and acts as an antiproliferative agent whilst also protecting breast cell integrity. The fact that Japan has a low incidence of FBD and breast cancer is believed to be attributed to high levels of dietary iodine from iodine-rich seaweeds.


There are some studies that shine a light on the benefits of antioxidants for breast health. A Korean study in 2001 showed that women with breast cancer had significantly lower serum levels of betacarotene, lycopene, retinol and alphatocopherol when compared to women without breast cancer. Retinol has built quite a reputation for inhibiting breast cell proliferation. Back in 1984, Pierre Band from the University of Montreal gave 12 women with benign breast disease 150,000 IU of vitamin A daily. After three months, five women had complete or partial relief from breast lumps and nine women reported significant reduction in breast pain. Admittedly, this is a very small trial but there has since been plenty of positive research highlighting retinol’s protective role.

Diet advice

Preventative dietary advice includes reducing alcohol, red meat and animal fats whilst increasing oily fish, fruit, vegetables and fibre. There’s data linking obesity and alcohol as high risk factors and when it comes to breast health it’s dietary fats that get the most focus. Research links high dietary omega-6 fatty acids to an increased risk of breast cancer and high omega-3 fatty acids to be protective against breast cancer. So lowering your BMI and getting your dietary fats in balance is vitally important. Actually the news about fats isn’t limited to your later years. There is research emerging from Georgetown University in Washington which suggests that eating a diet high in fat during pregnancy could increase the risk of your future female generations developing breast cancer. These insights are based on animal studies that showed pregnant rats on a high fat diet had daughters and granddaughters that had increased occurrence of breast cancer. Although the mechanisms for this increased risk are still being investigated it’s thought that the high fat diet triggers genetic changes inside the developing breast tissue.  

WOMEN'S HEALTH, iodine, breat cancer, antioxidants
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