By Michelle Kretzer
Researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute just released the findings of their new study that confirms, once again, a link between high cholesterol and breast cancer. In human breast cancer tissue cells, the researchers observed that a byproduct of cholesterol fuels both the growth and spread of breast tumors. Scientists say the research suggests that women may be able to reduce their risk of breast cancer by taking cholesterol-lowering drugs or eating a healthy, low-cholesterol diet.
Personally, I would rather increase my intake of colorful meals than colorful medicines. Fruits and vegetables have zero cholesterol, which is just one reason why you’ll find scores of them on any list of “cancer-fighting foods.” Whole grains and beans are cholesterol-free, too. In fact, no plant foods contain cholesterol.
But meat, eggs and dairy products all pack a cholesterol punch. A single egg has 212 milligrams, 3.5 ounces of shrimp has 194 and 3.5 ounces of chicken liver delivers a whopping 631 milligrams. And cholesterol isn’t the only thing that’s troubling about animal products, as far as the risk of breast cancer is concerned. Those foods are also full of saturated fat, excess protein, hormones and other harmful substances that can raise a person’s risk for breast cancer. According to Dr. Jane Plant, a British scientist, cancer survivor and author of The No-Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program, “Undoubtedly, the best anti-cancer diet would be to go completely vegan.”
I lost the person I was closest to—my grandmother—to breast cancer when she was just 64 years old, and other women in my family have had the disease as well. So reducing my breast cancer risk is of major importance to me. Cutting animal products out of my diet seems like one way that I can easily slash my risk, without any of the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs.
I stopped eating meat 12 years ago, and although I also cut dairy products out of my diet three years ago, I wish I’d done so sooner. I’ve discovered that there are lots of fringe benefits to eating a healthy vegan diet. I don’t have to struggle so much to maintain my desired weight, my skin looks clearer and I have more energy. I’ve also learned that when you stop making your meals reliant on meat, you start incorporating a much wider variety of foods and you open yourself up to a whole new world of flavors. And I enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that no animals suffered and died just so that I could enjoy a fleeting taste of their flesh.
Going vegan is one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and I hope others will join me in taking this important step for their own health.