Although the causes of breast cancer remain unknown, medical researchers are discovering that the foods you eat can either lower or raise your risk of getting the disease.
"The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that 1 in 3 cancer developments and recurrences can be prevented with healthy diet and lifestyle," says Hillary Sachs, an oncology dietitian with North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute, based in Lake Success.
Sachs creates nutritional plans and menus aimed at helping her patients successfully fight breast cancer and prevent a recurrence. She is teaming with Mitchell SuDock, executive chef at Mitch & Toni's restaurant in Albertson, for a free presentation on healthy, tasty foods breast cancer survivors can prepare at home. Sachs will offer tips on the best foods to eat and how to prepare them in a way that will enhance their cancer-fighting potential. SuDock will prepare several healthy dishes at the event, and there will be a free tasting. The presentation is April 29 at 7 p.m. at the University Center Ballroom on the campus of Adelphi University in Garden City. Because seating is limited, reservations must be made by Friday. To reserve your spot, call 516-877-4325.
For those who can't attend the presentation but are looking for guidance on healthy foods, Sachs says good nutrition begins with fruits and vegetables because they contain cancer-fighting compounds called phytochemicals. Each fruit and vegetable has a different set of phytochemicals, and it is these compounds that help give them their unique color. So, to get the most phytochemicals, eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. "The more color the better," Sachs says. And eat many different fruits and vegetables together. "They work synergistically with each other," she says. "Isolated, they may not do the same thing."
Also, load up on whole grains and limit the amount of red meat in your diet. With barbecue season approaching, be especially careful how you grill meats and poultry. "Those char marks actually are a chemical that could be cancer-producing," she says.
As for supplements, Sachs says they should be used as their name suggests: to supplement good nutrition. No amount of supplements can replace the healthy compounds and fiber in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. "An apple, for example, has close to 50 different phytochemicals in it," Sachs says. "There are individual cases where supplements do play a role, but they can't take the place of healthy diet."