Eating plant-based and unprocessed foods has been linked to the prevention of various illnesses. But even if illness does strike, such as in the form of breast cancer, science says that a vegan diet can enhance treatment.
- Less Methionine Consumption is Key
A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to starve tumour cells. The reason is because tumour cells are stimulated by methionine, a nutrient found in many non-vegan sources as well as some healthier foods. Foods high in methionine include beef, lab, nuts, cheese, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy, and beans. However, it is in low amounts in fruits and vegetables. Eating more fresh produce is therefore important to stimulate tumours to grow less or not grow at all in the case of triple-negative breast cancer cases.
- How Vegan Diets Can Boost Treatment
Triple-negative breast cancer refers to cancer where the three most common types of receptors that stimulate breast cancer growth - progesterone, HER-2/neu gene, and estrogen - are not present in the tumour. Patients with this form of breast cancer actually have fewer treatment options available because the cancer does not contain the hormones that are so often targeted during treatments, such as with the use of chemo. However, removing methionine from the person’s diet can be very beneficial. It makes the cancer cells more receptive to treatments.
- Add in Some Flaxseed
There are other elements of a vegan diet that can be helpful in breast cancer treatment. If you love adding flaxseed to your diet, you should definitely do so if you have breast cancer. Canadian research studied a small number of breast cancer survivors and found that eating two tablespoons of ground flaxseed twice a day can actually slow down the growth of cancer cells. Studies on mice that had human breast cancer also revealed the same conclusion.
*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons