Beauty is more than skin deep

Welcome to Breast Cancer Awareness month, writes Rochez O’Grady, initiated by the Cancer Association of South Africa.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting South African Women – 1 in 35 women in South Africa will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer (NRC 2007).

Finding this statistic rather alarming I decided to investigate if the foods you eat could help fight cancer. Rather than repeating the usual wishy-washy claims of miracle wonder foods I wanted to find evidence of the health benefits of various whole foods based on current scientific research.

In addition to incorporating a few beneficial foods to your diet, a healthy lifestyle needs to be viewed holistically. Making minor changes in daily habits, like doing exercise and increasing fruit and vegetable intake can have enormous benefits. This has been proven to quadruple a woman’s survival rate and significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Cancer fighting foods

Plant based diet

A study was done where women’s blood was tested on how well it could fight against cancer cells after going on a plant based diet. They found just after two weeks on a plant-based diet there was a significant improvement in the ability to fight and kill breast and colon cancer cells.

Fibre containing foods

Eating fibre rich food – especially nuts, two servings a week was associated with a 36% lower risk for breast cancer. Inadequate fibre intake appears to be a risk factor for breast cancer, which can explain how eating a plant-based diet may lower risk.

Flax seeds

One teaspoon of flax seeds may double one’s daily production of lignans, which is a phytonutrient that appear to play a role in both breast cancer prevention and survival. Be careful to do this in the last two trimesters of pregnancy as it could increase risk for pre-term delivery.


There is a phytonutrient called sulforaphane produced by cruciferous vegetables that target breast cancer cells.

Black beans

Recent research found they have an inhibitory activity against colon, liver and breast cancer cells.

Organic strawberries

Shown to slow down cancer growth – the study compared conventional and organic and it was found organic strawberries blocked cancer growth by 75%.


Persin, a natural toxin found in avos, appears so effective at killing breast cancer cells that it is being considered as a chemotherapy agent.


White mushrooms have been shown to inhibit the enzyme, aromatase, which is used by breast cancer cells to fight against our immune system. And guess what we only need five a day to get the benefits.


One apple a day, can this actually be of benefit? Yes, there is scientific evidence that show a single apple can lead to a lower risk of breast cancer. Especially their peel, it was shown that an apple plays a role in reducing each stage of tumour growth.

Your diet should ideally consist of at least 50% vegetables or salad and fruit. The recommendation is 9 servings of vegetables and fruit per day. For optimum nutrition include vegetables or salad at lunch and at dinner.

As we move into summer try these ingredients in a delicious lifesaving salad. Making changes in your life can be a challenge but remember nutrition is the most important factor contributing to your health.

For more information on nutritional tips to fight breast cancer visit:

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