A new book by an eminent American dietician presents a unique programme to tackle breast cancer - for healthy women as well as for those who are recovering from the disease.
"Everything I included or omitted from my diet was based on a good deal of substantiated scientific study," The Daily Mail quoted Dr Mary Flynn, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the prestigious Brown University in the U.S., as saying.
Flynn debunks, in her book titled 'The Pink Ribbon Diet', theories such as avoiding high fat foods and alcohol in one's diet. The diet proposed by her is essentially a modified form of the Mediterranean Diet.
Cut out red meat: Meat, poultry and seafood don't have the same cancer-fighting properties of other foods, said Flynn. An ideal cancer-fighting diet would be totally vegetarian.
Every day you should have:
Starch: 6-7 servings per day - a slice of bread, one pitta, half a bagel, 3 cups air-popped popcorn.
Vegetables: Unlimited, but at least four servings per day (ideally cooked in olive oil).
Fat: 4-5 servings per day, at least three from olive oil - 2 tablespoons nuts, 2 tablespoons nuts, one-tablespoon peanut butter, 1/4 avocado, 100g stoned olives.
Fruit: 3 servings per day - 1 apple, 4 apricots, half a banana, 13 cherries, 17 grapes, 11/2 kiwis, 1 nectarine, 1 orange, 1 peach, 2 plums, 3 prunes, 2 tablespoons raisins.
Dairy: 2 servings per day - 1 cup/250ml skimmed milk, 1 large egg, 1 oz/25g hard cheese, 4oz/100g cottage cheese, 125ml yoghurt.
Meat: Optional, but don't have more than 12oz of poultry and seafood (roughly two chicken or fish fillets) per week.
A typical day's food would be:
Breakfast(about 400 calories):
2 servings of wholegrain starch.
1-2 servings of fat (eg nuts and nut butters).
1 serving of deep-coloured fruit.
Optional: One or two servings of dairy and any amount of vegetables.
Lunch (500-600 calories):
2 servings wholegrain starch or beans.
2 servings of vegetables.
1-2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil.
1-2 servings of fruit (preferably deep-coloured). Optional: Cheese, egg, nuts (substitute for olive oil), some of your meat, poultry, or seafood allowance.
Dinner (500-600 calories):
3-4 servings of wholegrain starch or beans.
2 or more servings of vegetables.
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
1 serving of fruit (preferably deep-coloured). Optional: Cheese, some of your meat, poultry, or seafood allowance.
Vegetables with deeper colour contain more carotenoids, linked to lower breast cancer risk. Broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, beetroot, tomatoes and pumpkin are particularly rich in carotenoids.
Cucumber, okra, spinach, sweet potato, processed tomatoes, green peppers, radishes, courgettes and broccoli all contain salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory thought to lower breast cancer risk.
Most fruits are high in the anti-inflammatory agent, salicylic acid. The deeper the colour of the fruit, the more abundant the carotenoids - and the better it is for you.
Apricots, berries, and citrus fruits are also rich in antioxidants.
Milk is unlikely to increase cancer risk, but you might want to substitute with soya milk, which has been linked with anti cancer properties. Avoid soy if you are taking the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen, though, because it interferes with its absorption.
What to avoid:
Meat: Meat contains amino acids that stimulate insulin - and high insulin levels have been linked to breast cancer. Amino acids can also be converted in our bodies to homocysteine, a compound linked to disease-causing inflammation.
You should particularly avoid cured meats, such as ham or salami, which contain carcinogenic sodium nitrates.
Oily Fish: "Studies show that just adding omega-3s (found in fish oil) to your diet will not make you healthier; nor do they protect against cancer," she said.
So avoid margarine and vegetable oils such as sunflower or corn oil.