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14 Foods to Support Your Fight Against Breast Cancer

Living Well

May 13, 2024

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Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

by Sarah Garone


Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT


by Sarah Garone


Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT


As a nutritionist, I know that no food will cause or cure breast cancer. Still, I firmly believe that what I put on my plate has a meaningful impact on my risk and overall wellness.

I’m a nutritionist and carrier of the BRCA-2 gene, so I think a lot about how my diet influences my breast cancer risk.

Research may not have shown the exact interplay between diet and breast cancer, but they have made it clear that certain foods likely add to risk while others help minimize it.

Below, I’m highlighting what science has revealed about cancer-fighting foods.

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Foods that may have anticancer qualities

Though no food causes or cures breast cancer, what you put on your plate impacts your overall health and well-being. The foods below have the science behind them when it comes to supporting prevention.


You’ve probably heard broccoli and other cruciferous veggies touted as top anticancer foods. In the scientific world, their role in cancer development is known as “green chemoprevention.”

A 2020 study found that broccoli and its sprouts contain small molecules known as isothiocyanates, which may have potent cancer-fighting properties.

Soy foods

Over the years, rumors have swirled that soy foods could increase breast cancer risk. However, research shows that’s far from true. In fact, foods like tofu, tempeh, and miso may actually have the opposite effect.

A 2020 study that followed over 300,000 women found that they experienced a 3% reduction in breast cancer risk for every 10 grams per day of soy they consumed.


Reach for berries for a delicious cancer-prevention snack or dessert. The antioxidants in juicy fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries may be protective on several levels.

Research from 2016 shows these compounds can help lower inflammation, protect against DNA damage, and potentially slow the growth of cancer cells.


Grab a handful and get crunching!

In a 2023 study, eating more nuts was associated with a lower incidence of several cancers, including breast cancer.

Olive oil

The research on olive oil’s effects on breast cancer is mixed. Still, there’s hope that this healthy fat could contribute to reduced inflammation, ultimately lowering the chances of cancer in general.

A 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that people who consumed the most olive oil had a 31% lower likelihood of developing any cancer.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, aren’t just sunny additions to salads, beverages, and salsas. They may also play a role in cancer prevention.

An older 2013 review showed an inverse relationship between citrus fruit intake and breast cancer risk.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish are full of omega-3 acids. According to a 2019 study, these inflammation-fighting fats may offer protection against breast cancer.

There are plenty of fatty fish in the sea, including:

  • salmon
  • trout
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • herring
  • sturgeon
  • anchovies
  • sardines

Whole grains

Whole grains can easily be included in any meal, which is great news for breast cancer prevention.

Researchers in a 2020 study found that those who ate the most whole grains had a 16% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those who ate less.


You might think of high fiber foods as protective against colon cancer — and you’d be right. They may also help fight breast cancer.

A large 2018 study found a connection between eating a high fiber diet and a lower incidence of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.


Pizza, pasta, sandwiches, sauces — what can’t you make with tomatoes? Luckily, this popular fruit-slash-vegetable makes the list of anticancer foods.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, limited evidence suggests that nonstarchy and carotenoid-containing vegetables like tomatoes may decrease the risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

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Foods to limit or avoid while fighting cancer

While there are plenty of delicious cancer-fighting foods out there, it’s important to reduce your intake or avoid certain foods when it comes to prevention.


The American Cancer Society reports that drinking even small amounts of alcohol is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.

If you don’t already drink, it’s better not to start. If you do, try limiting your consumption to one alcoholic drink or less per day.

Fast food

Fast food can certainly be convenient, but most drive-thru options are high in sodium, saturated fats, and calories.

Over time, consistently eating these meals adds to the likelihood of obesity, a chief risk factor in the development of breast cancer postmenopause.

Highly processed packaged foods

Ultra-processed foods, like chips, protein bars, and packaged pastries, are easily identified by their long shelf lives and extensive ingredient lists. These foods usually contain numerous additives and preservatives.

In 2023 research, these highly processed options have been linked with both breast cancer and cancer in general.

Sugary foods and drinks

We all enjoy sweet treats sometimes. Even with breast cancer, you don’t have to say goodbye to all things sweet.

However, moderation is key. One 2020 study found that added sugar may be linked to breast cancer risk.

How much does food matter when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment?

It would be nice if we could have a definitive answer about how much diet impacts breast cancer risk and treatment. But, like most things with health and illness, that’s not the case.

While studies have suggested certain foods affect risk by a specific percentage at a specific dosage, it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact level of direct impact. Diet is one factor among many, like weight, hormones, and chemical exposure, that impact risk and recovery.

Consider diet as part of the big picture of cancer prevention and treatment, knowing that it’s important but not necessarily curative.

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Frequently asked questions

Have more questions? Here are some of the most common.

Does soy cause breast cancer?

No! In fact, most research — including this 2020 study — indicates that soy foods have a beneficial effect on breast cancer.

What foods stop cancer cells from growing?

No food will immediately stop cancer in its tracks, but many have antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and vitamins, minerals, and fiber that support healthy recovery.

What foods block estrogen in breast cancer?

If your breast cancer is estrogen receptor-positive, it could be wise to turn to foods that help promote healthy estrogen levels. Fiber and plant-rich diets like the Mediterranean diet or a vegetarian diet may do so.

What foods should you avoid during breast cancer?

Not surprisingly, foods to avoid during breast cancer are foods to avoid at most other times. Highly processed, low-nutrient-density foods like packaged snacks, fast food, and sugary treats are all best kept to a minimum.

Alcohol is one to watch out for, too.

What’s the best breast cancer diet plan?

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet plan for breast cancer. Your perfect diet will be unique to you. That said, focusing on nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible is generally a best bet.

Check out these dietitian-developed recipes for breast cancer.


Whether you’ve newly received a breast cancer diagnosis, are undergoing treatment, or just want to minimize your risk, designing your diet around whole, nutritious foods is always a good idea.

Be sure to set yourself up for success! Try purchasing an anti-inflammatory diet cookbook or two, creating a 1-week cancer-fighting meal plan, or even taking an anticancer cooking class at a local hospital.

Each small step will empower your breast cancer-fighting journey.

Medically reviewed on May 13, 2024

16 Sources

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About the author

Sarah Garone

Sarah Garone is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger. Find her sharing down-to-earth nutrition info at A Love Letter to Food or follow her on Twitter.

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