There are several important distinctions when choosing dietary fats as some are harmful and trigger breast cancer growth, as in the case of charred broiled red meat.
Fats to avoid are those that are highly processed (e.g. hydrogenated oils), those that are high in omega-six fatty acids (e.g. soy oil), those that have been heated to high temperatures (e.g. frying oil), and saturated- and hormone-laden fats from red meat and dairy.
We’ve known for decades that there is a strong link between cancer development and saturated fat from foods like butter, red meat, and most dairy products. Now we understand that a high-fat diet increases the risk of the most common form of breast cancer by 20 percent. The greater the intake, the greater the risk. Researchers found that heavy consumption of saturated fat (e.g.: a diet that includes milk, cream, cheese, ice cream, and butter) was found to have an even bigger impact, raising the risk of hormone-sensitive breast cancer by 28 percent.
Trans Fats and Cancer
In a European study, the concentration of trans fats stored in body fat was associated with a greater incidence of breast cancer. Some trans-fats have been structurally altered by a process called hydrogenation which turns liquid oil into a solid spread at room temperature.
Avoid empty calorie oils by using chia seeds to thicken dressings, steaming vegetables rather than sautéing, and skip fried foods. Replace empty-calorie oils with nutrient-rich, unprocessed, organic oils, such as organic tea seed oil (Tung, 2019), walnut oil, and avocado oil.
Oils made from tree nuts, including almonds, macadamia, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts, are rich in antioxidants that fight breast cancer including phenolic acids, flavonoids, lignans, stilbenes, and tannins (Amarowicz, 2019). Research suggests that this may be especially important to reduce breast cancer risk in those who are postmenopausal.
Omega Three and Breast Cancer
Rich and non-toxic sources of omega-three fatty acids include krill oil, chia seed, and hemp seed, and walnuts. Studies have found that postmenopausal women who eat a diet high in omega-three fatty acids have a lower risk for developing breast cancer.
Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, are rich in omega oils and DHA specifically. However, intake should be kept to one serving per week due to microplastics contamination.
Large fish are more likely to be contaminated with mercury, high levels of microplastics, and other pollutants as they bioaccumulate toxins in their fat and muscle. Therefore, completely avoid eating large fish such as tuna, shark, swordfish, and mackerel.
It is well established that omega-three fatty acids can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, most diets are high in omega-six fatty acids, while falling short of the recommended omega-three fatty acid concentrations. Diets high in omega-six fatty acids that do not also contain adequate amounts of omega-three fatty acids are likely to increase breast cancer risk. Damaging omega-six foods include as corn oil, soy oils, and processed foods, and healthful omega-three foods include walnuts and flaxseed. Flaxseeds are such a rich source of omega-three fatty acids that just twenty-five grams (about two and a half tablespoons) of flaxseed daily has been found to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells. Walnuts are one of the best sources of these cancer-fighting fats as they contain omega-three fatty acids as well as tocopherols that appear to work together to suppress tumor growth.
Omega Three and TNBC
Omega-three fatty acids not only inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, but also induce apoptosis. This inhibitory effect was found to be even more pronounced on triple-negative breast cancer cells.
Minimize omega-six fatty acids as excess may be particularly damaging for those who have a predisposition to metabolize them into higher levels of pro-inflammatory substances, based on genetic variability.
One of the main differences in how our bodies use omega-six versus omega-three fatty acids is how they regulate inflammation in our bodies. Omega-six fatty acids promote inflammation while omega-three fatty acids are converted almost exclusively into anti-inflammatory compounds. Thus, a diet high in omega-six and low omega three is generally pro-inflammatory. This is a significant consideration as chronic inflammation plays an important role in the development and growth of breast cancer as well as its accompanying fatigue (Alfano, 2012).
Omega-six fatty acids are partially converted enzymatically into arachidonic acid, an essential but inflammation-promoting eicosanoid. The enzyme levels influencing this conversion vary with genetic inheritance. Genetic variations responsible for higher enzyme levels of fatty acid desaturase for example, leading to higher levels of arachidonic acid production are much more common in people of African than of European ancestry. The implications could be profound since African and African American women are at higher risk of more aggressive and hormone-receptor-negative tumors.
The 5-lipoxygenase enzyme converts arachidonic acid to various inflammatory mediators called leukotrienes. The 5-lipoxygenase pathway has been implicated in carcinogenesis and tumor progression in breast cancer. A particular polymorphism of genes responsible for levels of this enzyme and its activating protein were at an 80 percent increased risk of breast cancer only if their diet contained high levels of linoleic acid, the most prominent omega-six polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Omega Three Fatty Acids
Portion Size Food Omega Three Fatty Acids (grams)
1 tablespoon Flaxseed oil 8
2 tablespoons Chia seed 5
2 tablespoons Flaxseed 3
2 tablespoons Hulled hemp seed 3
¼ cup Walnuts 3
1 tablespoon Walnut oil 1
Recommendation: Eat 5 walnuts and 2-3 tablespoons of hulled hemp seed daily to meet your Omega Three and DHA needs.