How Plant-Based Eating Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk — and Easy Ways to Start

My path to plant-based nutrition began when I first learned of my BRCA1 genetic mutation, and how it carried an 87 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 50 to 60 percent risk of ovarian cancer for me. I started eating a plant-based diet with the goal to reduce my risk, but it has since become a cornerstone of my health and a powerful narrative I wish to share — especially because I didn’t learn anything about it in medical school or from my own medical team.

February was Cancer Prevention Month, or as I like to call it, Cancer Risk Reduction Month. I call it that because it’s important to know that nothing we do can prevent cancer 100 percent, but we can focus on what is in our control to reduce our risk. Now, as March — which is National Nutrition Month — rolls in, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about plant-based nutrition for cancer risk reduction.

We are living in a time where “plant-based” and “vegan” are buzzwords. It’s important to know that it’s not just a fad but a scientifically backed dietary pattern that can significantly reduce cancer risk and improve quality of life for those living with cancer. Let’s dive into what “plant-based” means and the benefits of a plant-based diet in cancer risk reduction.

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

First things first: Not all plant-based diets are created equal. In the most basic terms, a predominantly whole-food, plant-based dietary pattern is one that focuses on consuming mostly whole, unprocessed plants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It also includes minimizing or eliminating animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs.

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