Beans May Cut Risk of Breast Cancer

Did you know women who eat beans at least twice a week have a significantly lower risk of getting breast cancer than women who don’t eat beans? I didn’t know that, but I would have become a bean if I’d thought it would’ve reduced my risk of breast cancer. Since I couldn’t do that, I now eat plenty of beans in hopes of reducing my risk of recurrence.

My friend and nutritionist, Barbra Swanson, ND, RD, LD, once called herself the “Bean Queen.” In a video for the BreastCancerSisterhood.com, Barbra rattles off types of beans as quickly as Forrest Gump’s friend, Bubba, rattled off shrimp dishes: Pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, adzuki beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, red beans, frijoles, green beans, kidney beans, wax beans, cannellini beans, white beans, navy beans. Barbra didn’t really list all of those beans, but she knows the right foods to eat and why. Since my diagnosis, I’ve learned a lot from Barbra and try to implement some of her wisdom each day.

Because beans are economical, every culture in history has eaten beans, but let’s not overlook the nutritional elements of beans. Beans are a great source of protein, B-vitamins and iron, plus beans are filling. Beans are also high in fiber, and fiber binds to circulating estrogen, which is important if you’ve been diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer. Why? Because excess estrogen is excreted into the bowels (yes, I’m talking about poop, again), and if it sits there long enough, the estrogen is reabsorbed into the body. In other words, since the fiber cleans out your bowels and makes you regular, the estrogen doesn’t stay long enough to be of major concern.

In addition, beans are low on the glycemic index, which means they aren’t high in sugar. That’s also good news for those with estrogen positive breast cancer. High glycemic foods cause our bodies to produce insulin, which promotes cell growth and inflammation and can weaken our body’s resistance to cancer. People who primarily eat beans and a plant-based diet have the lowest risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes in the world. By the way, if you’ve had estrogen positive breast cancer, you might want to stay away from chickpeas, soybeans, garbanzo, navy, kidney, pinto and fava beans, because they contain phytoestrogens, an estrogen-like substance that acts like the natural estrogen in our bodies.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with breast cancer, you might consider substituting beans instead of meat for at least one meal a week. If you’re worried about “gas,” as a result of eating beans and adding more fiber to your diet, add them gradually, or… Get over it! Gas, or breast cancer? It’s not a difficult choice.

To see Barbra Swanson’s videos about beans, nutrition and breast cancer, go to http://www.breastcancersisterhood.com/nutrition-breast-cancer.htm