About The Buzz: Protein Type Affects Breast Cancer Risk?

TheBUZZ Protein type affects breast cancer risk?


A diet high in red meat impacts a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, while consuming more servings of other protein sources like legumes, nuts, fish and poultry helps reduce her risk.


Breast Cancer Statistics

  • More than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2014.1
  • Approximately 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.1
  • In the United States today, 1 in 8 (12%) of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.1
  • Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the US.
  • Breast cancer is currently the second leading cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.2

Breast cancer develops through a complex interaction between genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout her lifespan, getting regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables are among the most beneficial ways women can proactively reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.


A recently published article on dietary protein sources and breast cancer risk highlights findings from The Nurse’s Health Study II.3 The study is valuable because it provides information on women’s health throughout their entire lifespan. Researchers discovered the following:

  1. Each additional serving per day increase in total red meat was associated with a 13% increase in risk of breast cancer among all women.
  2. Higher intakes of poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts were not related to breast cancer.
  3. Substituting one serving/day of legumes for one serving/day of total red meat was associated with a 15% lower risk of breast cancer among all women.


Substituting a combination of poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts as protein sources for red meat during early adult life appears to be beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer. High protein intake may impact tissue growth and tumor development when the source of protein is derived from red meat.3 This is not to say that you should become a vegan or vegetarian and forgo animal products and red meat for the rest of your days! On the contrary, research reiterates the importance of a balanced diet that incorporates a wide variety of food groups.


6 Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier

  1. Fruits & Veggies Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  2. In Season. Purchase fruits and vegetables in season to ensure freshness and affordability.
  3. Plate Makeover. Compare your plate to see how recipes you already enjoy can be modified to become more nutritious.
  4. Home Cooking. Home-cooked meals are typically more nutritious than takeout options.
  5. Experiment with new, healthy recipes.
  6. Entertaining? Provide friends and family with healthy appetizer and dessert options.


1 “What are the key statistics about breast cancer?” American Cancer Society. View Article

2 “Breast Cancer Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. View Article

3 Farvid, M.S., E. Cho, W.Y. Chen, et al (2014). “Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: Prospective cohort study.” BMJ, 348. View Article

Other Stories