Home > Blog

Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help with Breast Cancer?

By Skye Sherman  •   May 1, 2023
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jun 19, 2023

Photo Credit: by chandlervid85, freepik.com
Photo Credit: by chandlervid85, freepik.com

Anyone who has watched a loved one struggle with cancer or endured the disease themselves knows how much it can steal from one’s quality of life. Breast cancer is more than just a threat to your life; it is a danger to your overall happiness and quality of life as well.

That’s why people will do anything they can to prevent cancer or alleviate the symptoms after a diagnosis or during treatment. While science still hasn’t found the cure to cancer or determined exactly what causes it, we do know that diet, lifestyle choices, genetics, and other categories are risk factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer.

When it comes to breast cancer, not everything is within your control. However, if there are any elements you can control, such as diet, why not take the steps to reduce your risk of breast cancer wherever and however you can?

An anti-inflammatory diet is one of the major ways that people work to lower their risk of breast cancer. In this article, we’ll look at what an anti-inflammatory diet is and how it correlates with breast cancer. Keep reading for tips to reduce inflammation on the body so you can make sure your diet is working for you, not against you.


What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

Before you can get started with an anti-inflammatory diet, you need to know what exactly it is and how to go about eating with inflammation reduction in mind as the goal.

As Forbes puts it, “Inflammation is a big buzzword in nutrition these days—and for good reason: About 60% of Americans have a condition caused by or complicated by chronic inflammation. However, an anti-inflammatory diet, which is a simple eating plan consisting of common foods found at the grocery store, can help tamp down those flames.”

What exactly is inflammation? Think of when you cut your finger and it swells and turns red for a few days while it heals. This is an example of acute inflammation as your immune system attacks bad bacteria and aids your body in quickly healing back to normal. Now, picture low-grade inflammation that lasts for months, years, or even decades. This is essentially what chronic inflammation is, and it is damaging to your whole system, but especially to your organs and blood flow.

When your immune system is stuck in minor overdrive at all times, your body will suffer as a result. One of the main causes of inflammation is diet. Some foods cause inflammation and some fight inflammation. It’s important that you pack your diet with anti-inflammatory foods if you want to tamp down your risk of inflammation. Even radishes might help with inflammation!

Unfortunately, “The American way of eating is a recipe for chronic inflammation, thanks to its emphasis on saturated fats, added sugars, refined carbs and sodium,” as Forbes explains. “Meanwhile, there are thousands of health-promoting substances in healthier foods, including wider-known ones like vitamins, minerals, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and lesser known ones, such as flavanols (in tea and cocoa) and anthocyanins (in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and other red and purple plant foods). Just as certain chemicals in the body cause inflammation, naturally-occurring chemicals in certain foods can prevent and combat it by providing key nutrients.”

Long-term inflammation in the body damages healthy cells, weakens your immune system, and ups your risk of developing cancer. An anti-inflammatory diet is one packed with inflammation-fighting foods and low on foods that cause or are linked to inflammation. Eating healthy, whole foods and balanced meals is key not only to fighting inflammation but a whole host of other full-body benefits.

Can an anti-inflammatory diet help with breast cancer?

So, how exactly can an anti-inflammatory diet help with breast cancer? It’s important to remember that our diets are the building blocks that contribute to our entire chemical makeup. Genetics and environmental factors are important, but it’s like the old saying goes: You are what you eat.

Evidence suggests that diet and cancer are inextricably linked. As an article in Medical News reports, “Women eating more foods that increase inflammation in the body have a 12% increase in their risk of breast cancer relative to women who consumed more anti-inflammatory foods.” This is a majorly important fact.

The article also states, “Further research and analysis could determine whether the risk of breast cancer follows similar trends in other regions around the globe, particularly in developing countries that may experience rapid changes in diet composition. Additionally, further analysis could also provide insight into whether a mixed diet could boost anti-inflammatory effects to counteract pro-inflammation diets.”

As you can see, the science is still inconclusive, but consuming an anti-inflammatory diet would certainly help reduce your risk and empower you to lower your risk of breast cancer as much as you can.

A study titled The Role of NSAIDs in Breast Cancer Prevention and Relapse: Current Evidence and Future Perspectives reports, “Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have received considerable interest as potential chemopreventive agents. … There is currently enough evidence to support a role of NSAIDs in breast cancer prevention and relapse, which deserves further large-scale experimental and clinical investigation.”

Add more plant foods and fermented foods and limit your consumption of processed foods and red meat to give your body a fighting chance. Wondering how else to reduce inflammation? Read on to learn more.

Still, even if you do all the right things, you still cannot guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer. For some patients, breast cancer drugs like Femara and Arimidex may be the recommended route from a trusted healthcare professional.

Tips for reducing inflammation

Want to do as much as you can to reduce inflammation through your diet?

Medical News summarizes it well: “Foods that typically increase inflammation include red and processed meat; high-fat foods such as butter, margarine, and frying fats; and sweets including sugar, honey, and foods high in sugar. Contrastingly, fruits, vegetables, legumes, tea, and coffee all have potentially anti-inflammatory properties.”

Pack your plate with less of the former and more of the latter and you’re already on your way. Specifically, some studies have also shown that consumption of citrus fruits was shown to decrease breast cancer by 10% or more.

However, working to reduce inflammation can take many forms. While diet is an important aspect with strong links to inflammation (and lack thereof), it is not the whole picture. Sometimes, depending on each individual situation, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to assist with inflammation, which typically work by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

Did you know there is a link between aspirin and cancer? An article published in the National Library of Medicine states, “There is growing evidence from epidemiologic, preclinical and clinical studies suggesting that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) play a beneficial role in colorectal cancer chemoprevention. … The study confirmed that there is a link between the long-term use of the NSAIDs and a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer.”

Aspirin is an NSAID. While there is no conclusive evidence yet that aspirin helps breast cancer, these early results are promising since they suggest there is a link between aspirin and other types of cancer. If these beneficial effects extend to other types of cancer, such as breast cancer, there could be hope on the horizon for yet another way to take matters into your own hands and take steps to prevent or decrease your risk of cancer.

Other anti-inflammatory drugs include Voltaren and Celebrex. Of course, it’s vital to discuss with your doctor what treatment options may be right for you.

Anti-inflammatory recipe: The Perfect Power-Packed Salad

Eat this heart-healthy, balanced salad to boost your intake of inflammation-fighting plant foods and nourish your system from the inside out.


● Organic colorful greens (field greens, spinach, or whatever you prefer, but no iceberg lettuce)

● Organic strawberries, blueberries, and seeds of your choice

● Organic nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pine nuts

● Organic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

● Optional protein: wild-caught salmon


● Cook the protein as desired.

● Combine all ingredients to your liking; mix up and serve on a bed of greens with a tall glass of lemon water for a refreshing, filling, nutrition-packed lunch or dinner.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.