Breast Cancer Campaign

Why is the number of women with breast cancer rising? Is diet involved and what can you do about it?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the UK. Many of the risk factors are related to diet and lifestyle. Despite the growing body of scientific evidence, there is a widespread reluctance to recognise the role of diet in breast cancer risk. When Viva!Health started this campaign in 2007, one in nine women in the UK had a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Now the lifetime risk is one in eight! An examination of the links between diet and lifestyle and breast cancer is long overdue.  

While breast cancer is now a disease that most women survive (thanks to earlier diagnosis and better treatment), the number of women facing this disease continues to rise. Since 1970s the incidence of breast cancer has increased by a staggering 80 per cent.

It's not all in the Genes. Many people think that their risk of developing breast cancer is beyond their control; that ‘fate’ will decide. This type of genetic fatalism results from the much-publicised link between genes and breast cancer. However, less than 10 per cent of breast cancers are caused by faulty genes. The vast majority (over 90 per cent) are caused by environmental factors, including diet. Women who maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and have a low intake of saturated fat and alcohol tend to have a lower risk.

So what are the effects of saturated fat, red meat and dairy foods? Can a plant-based diet rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods help? What effect, if any, do soya foods have?

Viva!Health has produced a scientific report; One in Nine which explains how breast cancer cases are rising and examines the evidence linking red meat and dairy to this disease. The fully-referenced report reveals how saturated animal fat, hormones and growth factors found in meat and dairy foods are implicated. The report also investigates which foods can help prevent and overcome breast cancer. Read how fruit and vegetables, fibre, folic acid, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cabbage) and soya can help fight this disease.

We have also produced a colourful 52-page guide called A Fighting Chance - A guide to healthy eating to help prevent and overcome breast cancer. The easy-to-read guide, based on the latest science, explains why meat and dairy foods are harmful and reveals different ways of eating healthier, tastier foods that don't contain the harmful substances found in meat and dairy but do contain vital fibre and disease-busting compounds. The guide also contains a list of delicious superfood ingredients with an explanation as to why they can help combat illness and a useful seven-day meal plan with easy-to-follow, inspiring recipes.

The detrimental health effects of consuming cow's milk and dairy products are more widely discussed in Viva!Health's fully-referenced scientific report White Lies.