Nourishing wellness: The impact of nutrition on breast cancer risk

Written by: Professor Kefah Mokbel
Edited by: Conor Dunworth

In his latest online article, highly experienced consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon Professor Kefah Mokbel offers his expert insight into the impact of nutrition on breast cancer. He answers his patients’ most frequently asked questions, such as whether or not diet can Increase the risk of breast cancer.


What role does nutrition play in breast cancer risk?

Nutrition plays a crucial role in our overall health, and emerging research suggests that it can significantly impact our risk of developing breast cancer. Lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, account for approximately 50% of all breast cancer cases. Understanding the relationship between nutrition and breast cancer risk can empower individuals to make informed choices about their diet and lifestyle.


Can diet increase the risk of breast cancer?

Evidence suggests that certain dietary habits increase the risk of breast cancer. Consumption of processed foods, foods high in animal fat, and carbohydrates has been linked to higher breast cancer risk. Additionally, excessive intake of red meat and sweet sugary drinks may further elevate this risk. Alcohol consumption and physical inactivity are also strong predictive factors for increased breast cancer risk.


Are there dietary strategies to mitigate breast cancer risk?

Conversely, adopting a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, and spices may offer protection against breast cancer. Incorporating foods like raspberries, cherries, blueberries, kale, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, and tomatoes into your diet can provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants that help safeguard against cancer development. Beverages like green tea and coffee have also been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.


How does physical activity influence breast cancer risk?

Maintaining a healthy weight through regular physical exercise is essential for breast cancer prevention. Exercise not only helps to control body weight but also reduces inflammation, improves the immune system and improves hormone regulation, factors that play a role in breast cancer development. Ensuring adequate blood levels of vitamin D is important and may require a regular intake of vitamin D3 supplements (1000 iu daily).


What are the key takeaways for reducing breast cancer risk through nutrition and lifestyle choices?

Making mindful dietary choices and leading an active lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. By prioritising whole, nutrient-rich foods and incorporating regular physical activity into our daily routine, we can take proactive steps to protect our health and well-being.



Professor Kefah Mokbel is a renowned consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon based in London. If you would like to book a consultation with Professor Mokbel you can do so today via his Top Doctors profile.

By Professor Kefah Mokbel

Professor Kefah Mokbel is an internationally renowned breast cancer surgeon and researcher who specialises in the multidisciplinary care of patients with breast cancer. He is the lead oncoplastic breast surgeon at the London Breast Institute. His areas of expertise include breast cancer detection, oncoplastic breast surgery, breast screening, breast cysts and lumps and breast implants. In addition, he is an honorary professor of breast cancer surgery at Brunel University London and the founder and president of a UK cancer charity; Breast Cancer Hope.

Following the completion of his undergraduate medical education at the London Hospital Medical College in 1990, Professor Mokbel pursued surgical training at the Royal Marsden, Charing Cross, Chelsea and Westminster, Saint Mary’s and St Bartholomew’s hospitals and completed his higher surgical training as an oncoplastic breast surgeon in 2000. Professer Mokbel has won various prestigious prizes, awards and honours during his educatiom, training and postgraduate career. 

He qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1994 and was then granted the Master of Surgery degree in 2000 by The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine for his research in the field of molecular biology of breast cancer.

Professor Mokbel's research interest lies in the field of molecular biology and the clinical management of breast cancer and aesthetic breast surgery. This includes breast reconstruction following mastectomy and augmentation mammoplasty using implants and fat transfer. In addition, he has authored or coauthored more than 400 scientific papers, editorials, commentaries and textbook chapters (Google Scholar H-index = 51 and I10-index = 170) and has authored 14 textbooks aimed at medical students and postgraduate doctors. His current academic interest is focused on how to apply the advances from clinical trials to daily surgical practice. He is also currently a member of the editorial board of various global medical journals and has peer-reviewed for renowned journals such as The Lancet. 

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