There are few published studies that focus on the influence that diet and lifestyle have on the risk of breast cancer in women with BRCA mutations.
However, the studies that are available that show that consuming certain foods and dietary supplements reduces the risk substantially.
The foods and supplements include:
Caffeinated coffee: Drinking several cups of joe a day can drop the risk for those with the BRCA1 gene mutation by as much as 70 percent!
Selenium: This essential mineral has several anticancer properties, including helping to repair oxidative DNA damage. A 2006 double-blind placebo-controlled study of 200 women with the BRCA1 mutation investigated the effects of selenium supplementation and the risk of breast cancer. The women were given either selenium supplements or a placebo. After two years, those taking selenium supplements had an incidence of breast cancer that was two times lower than those taking the placebo.
Omega-3 fatty acids: This type of fat found in generous amounts in wild caught salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts has many health promoting properties, including positively influencing the BRCA1 gene. According to a 2007 French study, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the incidence of BRCA-related tumors by 30 percent.
Vitamin D: A study published in the Journal of Cell Biology found that vitamin D plays a significant role in turning off a pathway that can cause an activation of the mutated BRCA1 gene.
Ginkgo biloba: Chinese researchers in 2011 discovered that this herb may prevent BRCA1-associated ovarian cancer risk.
BRCAs on-the-Blink Means Choices
If you carry the BRCA gene mutations, there are many options to lower your risk. Numerous considerations go into determining what course of action may be best for each individual. Surgery may be the superior approach in certain situations. However for most women, effective safe alternatives to surgery that include a healthy diet and lifestyle, along with key nutritional supplements may be a wiser. As a former surgeon, I recommend you consider them first. Your circumstances are unique, so make sure you educate yourself as much as possible to determine which path is right for you.
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Hill, S., T. Frasch, S. Xiang, et al. "Molecular mechanisms of melatonin anticancer effects." Integrative Cancer Therapies Vol. 8. (Dec 2009): 337-346.
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Pijpe, A. N. Andrieu, D. Easton, et al. "Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of breast cancer among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations: retrospective cohort study (GENE-RAD-RISK). British Medical Journal Vol. 345. (2112): e5660.
Tomasz, H., B. Tomasz, J. Gronwald, et al. "A lowering of breast and ovarian cancer risk in women with the BRCA 1 mutation by selenium supplementation of diet." Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice Vol. 4. (Jan 2006): 58.