October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We often direct the awareness message to women, recommending steps they can take to detect breast cancer early or to reduce their risk of cancer.
But breast cancer prevention actually begins in childhood. Several recent studies show the relationship of childhood diet to breast cancer risk.
Childhood Diet and Cancer Risk
It’s long been known that early puberty is a risk factor for breast cancer, likely because of the increased length of time the body is exposed to higher levels of estrogen. Interestingly enough, onset of puberty is significantly impacted by certain dietary factors.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012 showed that increased meat and dairy intake is associated with an earlier age of puberty onset. On the other hand, a diet higher in vegetable protein intake was correlated to a later onset of puberty. This study specifically looked at the diet when the children were only 3 to 6 years old.
So if you finding yourself giving your child meat for breakfast (sausage), meat for lunch ( turkey sandwich) and meat for dinner (roasted chicken) day after day and rounding that out with a glass of milk and ice cream for dessert... it’s time to change that feeding pattern. A plant-strong diet, about 80% plant-based, is a great and simple way to impact your child’s risk of disease later on, specifically, the risk of breast cancer and other hormonally related cancers.
Let's take heed of Breast Cancer Prevention Month.
Feeding your children unrefined, nutrient-dense whole foods, an abundance of vegetables, fruit and legumes is one of the best things you can do for their overall health.
Healthy nutrition is one of the many ways to give your children a good start and a key tenet of a holistic approach to pediatrics.
Günther AL1, Karaolis-Danckert N, Kroke A, Remer T, Buyken AE. Dietary protein intake throughout childhood is associated with the timing of puberty. J Nutr. 2010 Mar;140(3):565-71. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.114934. Epub 2009 Dec 30.