Salad for Breast Cancer Prevention

One of the things I like to do to keep myself up to date on integrative breast cancer care is to review the most up to date research available.

This helps me ensure that I am providing my breast cancer clients and women trying to prevent breast cancer recurrence with the latest research-based information out there.

Recently, while going through some studies, I came across this review looking at the impact of our gut microbiome and diet on breast cancer risk and progression. The Review is called “Exploring the impact of gut microbiota and diet on breast cancer risk and progression” and it was published in the International Journal of Cancer in January of 2021.

There is emerging evidence that our microbiome, which is the community of bacteria that live in our gut, plays a key role in breast cancer outcomes.

Interestingly, many of the environmental and lifestyle aspects associated with breast cancer risk are also know to impact our gut flora. These include diet, obesity, alcohol use, circulating hormones and our exposure to antibiotics. So, essentially, the same factors that affect our gut flora, can also affect our risk of getting breast cancer.

The study looks how our gut microbiome is associated with breast cancer risk factors, as well as the potential immune mechanisms by which the microbiome may influence breast cancer risk.

We know that a diverse microbiome is considered ideal for health… the question is, is there a specific microbiome signature (community of bacterial flora) that gives the most benefits in terms of protection from breast cancer? This is something that is still being explored…

The study illustrates how diet plays a major role in both impacting the gut flora, and breast cancer risk and progression. The food we eat interacts with our gut flora and so this is something to be aware of with every bite that we put into our body.

Microbes in our gut break down our food into bioactive compounds which may then go on to influence biological pathways including cellular proliferation, metabolism and immunity. How these interactions occur in the body, is what can lead to differential breast cancer outcomes.

We also know, and what the studies are showing is that dietary polyphenols (plant-based chemicals) are linked with better breast cancer outcomes.

These studies have looked at components of food such as flavanols, resveratrol and anthocyanins found in green tea, berries and grapes. These substances can increase certain beneficial bacteria in the gut, and positively affect tumor progression and cancer treatment.

The study also talks about how certain member of our gut flora are “generalist” microbes which break down many different types of carbohydrates, and “specialist” microbes, which degrade specific oligosaccharides. They do this using their own enzymes, such as glycoside hydrolases.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions… we don’t know the impact of chemotherapy on gut flora in breast cancer patients. At this point in time, there are no studies looking at how radiation affects gut flora in breast cancer.

Most of us understand that eating more plant-based food is beneficial to our health. After reading this study, I get how the components of food are broken down by the gut flora, and interact in our bodies to affect breast cancer risk and progression.

It would benefit all of us, whether we are in treatment for breast cancer, trying to prevent a recurrence, or trying to prevent breast cancer in the first place, to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies and feeding our gut bacteria everyday.

The best way I’ve learned how to do that is to feed my gut bacteria lots of polyphenol-rich foods. I eat a salad every day because I know that these contain the components my body needs to prevent breast cancer as well as other cancers. 

If you would like more information on how I can help you use nutrition and lifestyle strategies in your breast cancer recovery toolbox, go ahead and CLICK THIS LINK to set up a call to speak with me! 

If you would like more information on nutrition and lifestyle strategies for breast cancer prevention and recovery, CLICK THIS LINK to join my free Facebook group called Breast Cancer Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies for Prevention and Recovery to help support you in your journey and connect you with like-minded people. 


Saxe GA, Rock CL, Wicha MS, Schottenfeld D. Diet and risk for breast cancer recurrence and survival. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1999;53: 241-253.

Xiao Y, Xia J, Li L, et al. Associations between dietary patterns and the risk of breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Breast Cancer Res. 2019;21:16.

Jin JS, Touyama M, Hisada T, Benno Y. Effects of green tea consumption on human fecal microbiota with special reference to Bifidobacterium species. Microbiol Immunol. 2012;56:729-739.

Moreno-Indias I, Sanchez-Alcoholado L, Perez-Martinez P, et al. Red wine polyphenols modulate fecal microbiota and reduce markers of the metabolic syndrome in obese patients. Food Funct. 2016;7:1775-1787.

Neyrinck AM, Van Hee VF, Bindels LB, De Backer F, Cani PD, Delzenne NM. Polyphenol-rich extract of pomegranate peel alleviates tissue inflammation and hypercholesterolaemia in high-fat dietinduced obese mice: potential implication of the gut microbiota. Br J Nutr. 2013;109:802-809.

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