Basics About Hepatitis

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Some Key Facts

  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
  • Two billion people worldwide have been infected with the virus and about 600 000 people die every year due to the consequences of hepatitis B.
  • The hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV.
  • Hepatitis B is an important occupational hazard for health workers.
  • Hepatitis B is preventable with the currently available safe and effective vaccine

 Besides alcohol consumption, a series of deadly infections that spread through water, food and even blood transfusion can cause hepatitis (liver infection).

The virus may be transmitted through saliva of the first eater to the second person sharing an apple, warn doctors. “Every month about 20 to 30 cases are detected in Pune in which people catch liver infection even though they do not consume alcohol. An equal number of people approach us suffering from liver problems due to consumption of alcohol and hepatitis B infection,” said senior gastroenterologist Parimal Lawate of Jehangir Hospital.

 Hepatitis B virus can cause an acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Liver cancer caused by hepatitis B is among the first three causes of death from cancer in men, and a major cause of cancer in women in this region.

 Transmission

Hepatitis B virus is transmitted between people by direct blood-to-blood contact or semen and vaginal fluid of an infected person. Modes of transmission are the same as those for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but the hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious. Unlike HIV, the hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least seven days. During this time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine.

 In developing countries, common modes of transmission are:

 •Perinatal (from mother to baby at birth)

•Early childhood infections (inapparent infection through close interpersonal contact with infected household contacts)

•Unsafe injection practices

•Unsafe blood transfusions

•Unprotected sexual contact.

 Symptoms

Most people do not experience any symptoms during the acute infection phase. However, some people have acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In some people, the hepatitis B virus can also cause a chronic liver infection that can later develop into cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

 Who is at risk for chronic disease?

The likelihood that infection with the hepatitis B virus becomes chronic depends upon the age at which a person becomes infected. Young children who become infected with the hepatitis B virus are the most likely to develop chronic infections:

 •90% of infants infected during the first year of life develop chronic infections;

•30–50% of children infected between one to four years of age develop chronic infections.

 In adults:

25% of adults who become chronically infected during childhood die from hepatitis B-related liver cancer or cirrhosis;

•90% of healthy adults who are infected with the hepatitis B virus will recover and be completely rid of the virus within six months. 

Diagnosis

A number of blood tests are available to diagnose and monitor people with hepatitis B. They can be used to distinguish acute and chronic infections.

Laboratory diagnosis of hepatitis B infection centres on the detection of the hepatitis B surface antigen HBsAg. A positive test for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) indicates that the person has an active infection (either acute or chronic). WHO recommends that all blood donations are tested for this marker to avoid transmission to recipients.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. Care is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.

 Prevention

The hepatitis B vaccine is the mainstay of hepatitis B prevention. WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine.

The vaccine can be given as either three or four separate doses, as part of existing routine immunization schedules. In areas where mother-to-infant spread of the hepatitis B virus is common, the first dose of vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth (i.e. within 24 hours).

The complete vaccine series induces protective antibody levels in more than 95% of infants, children and young adults. Protection lasts at least 20 years and is possibly lifelong.

 References: WHO, HealthIndia.com, Times of India

Dealing with Ear Infections during Rains

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The rainy season brings along a number of air borne and water borne diseases. People face problems in throat, nose and ear.

Prof. (Dr) J. M. Hans, Chairman E.N.T. Rockland hospital, says, “Our body’s immunity reduces due to dehydration during the summer and becomes susceptible to the diseases associated with rains. The diseases include malaria, dengue, jaundice, gastrointestinal infections like typhoid and cholera, and also the viral infections like cold and cough. ENT problems also resurface this time around as the external ear cannel lined by the Squamous-cell carcinoma is susceptible to infections.”

Dr Hans, further adds, “Some people love to itch their ears and also put cotton buds, sticks, feathers or cloth inside their ears and itch it. This is a strict no as fungus is breeding everywhere. So, these might contain fungus, and once you put it inside your ear it starts growing there. This causes the ears to itch vigorously for a day or two and then the problem worsens with complaints of earache and a feeling of blockage.”
To avoid all this, it is very important to boost our immunity and take proper precautions. Another area of concern is the fungal infections caused by fungus and yeast that thrive in wet skin folds like underarms, groins and under the breasts. Feet are another area for such infections especially amongst those who wear shoes and socks throughout the day.

Ensure that clothes, socks, footwear etc are dry. Use adequate talcum powder. Also, drink boiled/filtered water. Avoid drinks and ice that is not made from filtered water.

Also, we drink cold beverages during summers to overcome heat. In monsoons, most of the people prefer cold water. This can lead to throat infections and fever. Prefer hot beverages like herbal tea and soups. It will keep the body warm and also boost the immune system.

Your monsoon diet must include dairy products as they can boost your immune system and fight germs that might attack you. A glass of hot milk is healthy and nutritious.

Dr. Savyasachi Saxena, Consultant, ENT, Columbia Asia hospital, Ghaziabad, says, “During monsoon, fungal infection in ears increases. This causes pain, and itching. Also, people who have a small hole in the ear drum undergo trouble. Due to this ear discharge begins and this is a big problem that may even require surgery.”

Dr Saxena stresses that it is important to take care of hygiene during this time. “Children are soft targets as they catch monsoon infections quickly. It is important to change their clothes everyday and ask them to wash hands at regular intervals. Also getting the AC filters cleaned is very important.”

Dr Chanchal Pal, ENT specialist at Moolchand Medicity says, “Fungal infection in the ear, skin infection, allergic reaction and throat infection along with viral infection are common during monsoon. High temperature due to tonsil infection is also common. Drinking cold water, sudden change of temperature, itching ears contribute to 30 per cent of the hike in these diseases. After taking medicine regularly for a week, throat and skin problems subside.

However, fungal infections in the ear could take 21 days to cure.”    Children are soft targets during monsoon. Since children have a low immunity, it is seen that they are affected most by viral diseases. So, there are lots of cases of mumps, measles, and other viral infections. Sore throat and runny nose is usually an added symptom. It is best to consult with a doctor and get appropriate treatment to solve the problems.

 Tips to combat illnesses during monsoon:

  • Do not allow the kids to play in stagnant water.
  • Do not enter air-conditioned room with wet hair and damp clothes.
  • Dry your feet and hand with soft dry cloth whenever they are wet and keep the    surroundings dry and clean.
  • Food poisoning is very common. Eat only homemade and well-cooked food. Avoid food from vendors.
  • Throw out the food having strange odour or mould. Eat raw vegetables and fruits only when properly washed and freshly peeled.
  • Eat a balanced and protein rich diet. Avoid seafood and all dairy products until they have been properly pasteurised.
  • Avoid fruits and vegetables that have been pre-cut or peeled and kept in open. Always remember that raw chopped vegetables and fruits get spoilt fast.

Source: http://www.onlymyhealth.com/dealing-with-ear-infections-during-rains-1374659752

 

How Owning a Dog or Cat Can Reduce Stress

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When thinking of ways to reduce stress in life, usually techniques like meditation, yoga and journaling come to mind. These are great techniques, to be sure. But getting a new best friend can also have many stress relieving and health benefits. While human friends provide great social support and come with some fabulous benefits, this article focuses on the benefits of furry friends: cats and dogs! Research shows that, unless you’re someone who really dislikes animals or is absolutely too busy to care for one properly, pets can provide excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits—perhaps more than people! Here are more health benefits of pets:

 Pets Can Improve Your Mood:

For those who love animals, it’s virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy eyes meets yours, or when a super-soft cat rubs up against your hand. Research supports the mood-enhancing benefits of pets. A recent study found that even men with AIDS were less likely to suffer from depression if they owned a pet.

 Pets Control Blood Pressure Better Than Drugs:

Yes, it’s true. While ACE inhibiting drugs can generally reduce blood pressure, they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. However, in a recent study, groups of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who got dogs or cats were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t get pets. When they heard of the results, most of those in the non-pet group went out and got pets!

 Pets Encourage You To Get Out And Exercise:

Whether we walk our dogs because they need it, or are more likely to enjoy a walk when we have companionship, dog owners do spend more time walking than non-pet owners, at least if we live in an urban setting. Because exercise is good for stress management and overall health, owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits.

 Pets Can Help With Social Support:

When we’re out walking, having a dog with us can make us more approachable and give people a reason to stop and talk, thereby increasing the number of people we meet, giving us an opportunity to increase our network of friends and acquaintances, which also has great stress management benefits.

 Pets Stave Off Loneliness and Provide Unconditional Love:

Pets can be there for you in ways that people can’t. They can offer love and companionship, and can also enjoy comfortable silences, keep secrets and are excellent snugglers. And they could be the best antidote to loneliness.

 Pets Can Reduce Stress—Sometimes More Than People:

While we all know the power of talking about your problems with a good friend who’s also a good listener, recent research shows that spending time with a pet may be even better! Recent research shows that, when conducting a task that’s stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present!

 It’s important to realize that owning a pet isn’t for everyone. Pets do come with additional work and responsibility, which can bring its own stress. However, for most people, the benefits of having a pet outweigh the drawbacks. Having a furry best friend can reduce stress in your life and bring you support when times get tough.

Source: http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/petsandstress.htm

Hypertension Management and Prevention by DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

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Hypertension can be controlled through lifestyle changes and prescriptive medication. While medications to treat hypertension are available, research has shown that modest lifestyle and dietary changes can help treat and often delay or prevent high blood pressure.

In addition to healthy weight maintenance, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol intake, moderate physical activity for 30-45 minutes on most days is also recommended.

Hypertension Diet Plan- Five Dietary Recommendations

 1.            DASH dietary pattern—The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) dietary pattern is recommended by the American Heart Association, and the National Cancer Institute. The DASH diet is an overall eating plan that focuses on eating twice the average daily amount of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and low-fat dairy products. The DASH dietary pattern is lower in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and higher in potassium, magnesium, and calcium than the typical diet. The high levels of potassium, magnesium, and calcium in the DASH diet are thought to be at least partially responsible for its results..

 2.            Regulation of caloric intake—A reduction in daily caloric intake is associated with a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. Following the DASH diet may help one regulate daily calorie consumption, and may have a greater effect in reducing blood pressure than following a low-fat diet alone. Along with drug therapy, weight reduction should be a primary goal. Weight maintenance may reduce the time and number of drugs necessary to control blood pressure.

 3.            Low sodium diet—A decrease in sodium (a major component of salt) is associated with a decrease in blood pressure. Following the DASH dietary pattern, as well as consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, has been shown to lower and maintain a normal blood pressure. Those looking to reduce salt consumption should choose minimally processed foods, examine food labels for sodium content, and use alternative seasonings to flavor foods. For more information on how sodium affects the diet.

 4.            Potassium, calcium, and magnesium—Potassium works with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance. Research shows that a high potassium-to-sodium ratio is associated with a greater likelihood that normal blood pressure will be maintained. Potassium rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, and fruit, should be eaten everyday

 An increased intake of calcium and magnesium may have blood pressure lowering benefits, especially if achieved through the DASH dietary pattern. General recommendations suggest meeting the Adequate Intake (AI) for calcium and the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium, through food sources instead of supplements.

 5.            Dietary fat—Current recommendations for dietary fat include decreasing intake of saturated fat and trans fat as well as overall intake of dietary fat. These recommendations are geared towards healthy weight maintenance. Although research concerning the effects of omega-3 fatty acids has not shown any beneficial effect towards lowering blood pressure, it is still an essential fat to incorporate into one’s diet.

 Source: “DASH Diet Eating Plan” www.dashdiet.org

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

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Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this: 128 /88

Read as “128 over 88 millimeters of mercury”

Systolic

The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).

 Diastolic

 The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

 What is the AHA recommendation for healthy blood pressure?

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association

Blood Pressure
Category

Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)

 

Diastolic
mm Hg (lower #)

Normal
 

less than 120

and

less than 80

Prehypertension

120 – 139

or

80 – 89

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1

140 – 159

or

90 – 99

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2

160 or higher

or

100 or higher

Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)

Higher than 180

or

Higher than 110

*Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

 Your doctor will want to get an accurate picture of your blood pressure and chart what happens over time. Starting at age 20, the American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure screening at your regular healthcare visit or once every 2 years, if your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.

 Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While BP can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg (less than 120 systolic AND less than 80 diastolic) for an adult age 20 or over. About one in three (33.5%) U.S. adults has high blood pressure.

 If your blood pressure reading is higher than normal, your doctor may take several readings over time and/or have you monitor your blood pressure at home before diagnosing you with high blood pressure

A single high reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. However, if readings stay at 140/90 mm Hg or above (systolic 140 or above OR diastolic 90 or above) over time, your doctor will likely want you to begin a treatment program. Such a program almost always includes lifestyle changes and often prescription medication for those with readings of 140/90 or higher.

 If, while monitoring your blood pressure, you get a systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher, wait a couple of minutes and take it again. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should seek immediate emergency medical treatment for a hypertensive crisis. If you can’t access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to the hospital right away.

 Even if your blood pressure is normal, you should consider making lifestyle modifications to prevent the development of HBP and improve your heart health

 Which number is more important, top (systolic) or bottom (diastolic)?

 Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50 years old. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term build-up of plaque, and increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

 Source: http://www.heart.org

Drinking in pregnancy may harm learning and memory in baby

Moms-to-be who drink alcohol during pregnancy may be harming their offspring’s cognitive functions, a new study has warned.

Chinese researchers found that maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy has detrimental effects on fetal central nervous system development.

Maternal alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy significantly affects cognitive functions in offspring, which may be related to changes in the enzyme cyclin-dependent kinase 5. The enzyme is associated with modulation of synaptic plasticity and impaired learning and memory.

Professor Ruiling Zhang and team from Xinxiang Medical University in China explored the correlation between cyclin-dependent kinase 5 expression in the hippocampus and neurological impairments following prenatal ethanol exposure.

They found that prenatal ethanol exposure could affect cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and its activator p35 in the hippocampus of offspring rats.

The findings were published in the journal Neural Regeneration Research.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/drinking-in-pregnancy-may-harm-learning-and-memory-in-baby-113072100482_1.html

 

8 great ways to lower your cholesterol, naturally

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Making simple lifestyle and food changes is a great way to lower your cholesterol

1. Think fibre, fibre, fibre!
This important food component is a great help when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Some fibres are better than others — such as water-soluble options like oat bran, psyllium seeds, guar gum or pectin. These form a gel that binds bile and cholesterol in the gut to allow for excretion as part of your bowel motions. They have also been found to decrease the bad (LDL) cholesterol and improve the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

2. Go vego
Vegetarian diets have been found to be effective in lowering cholesterol. Consider going vego as a short-term plan (say for 3-6 months) when you need to be intensive about lowering cholesterol levels. Increasing the amount of fresh vegetables you consume will support your general health by supplying the body with a range of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Remember to firstly get advice or do some research on how to eat a balanced vegetarian diet.

3. No, sweetie
Few people realise that eating sugar promotes the production of cholesterol in the body. Sugar intake is out of control in the average person’s diet to the point that many people are no longer able to identify more subtle degrees of sweetness. Sugar is also addictive. If you eliminate sugar from your diet for a while, you’ll find that simple foods such as carrots and grains actually taste sweet. If you then try to introduce highly-sweet foods or drinks such as soft drink into your diet , you will often find that you can no longer stand how sweet they are.

4. Kick caffeine
Sadly for caffeine addicts, there’s a link between cholesterol levels and the consumption of coffee — particularly if you’re hardcore and drink around six cups per day. For good health, coffee should be kept out of the diet altogether or at levels of one to two per day.

5. The happy hour hazard
Alcohol is known to elevate cholesterol levels so it’s best to steer clear.

6. Get moving
There’s a direct correlation between a person’s level of physical activity and their cholesterol levels. Exercise has been shown to decrease total cholesterol while improving good HDL cholesterol.

7. Eat more garlic
Garlic may have a mild cholesterol lowering effect. Include garlic in your diet wherever possible. Raw chopped or crushed garlic can be taken daily on a spoon. It can help to mix it with honey to help take the edge off.

8. Stomp out stress
The link between stress and the production of cholesterol is well-established, so take time to relax. Regular relaxation will help to keep your stress levels under control. Some suggestions include meditation, relaxation CDs, exercise, yoga, reading or getting your worries down on paper

Source: http://health.ninemsn.com/naturaltherapies/naturalhealth/736359/8-great-ways-to-lower-your-cholesterol-naturally

 

Basics about High Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood. It is mainly made in the body and plays an essential role in how every cell in the body works. Research shows that too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

What is the difference between LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol?

Cholesterol is carried around the body by proteins. The combination of cholesterol and proteins are called lipoproteins. There are two main types of lipoproteins:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is known as the bad type of cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the good type of cholesterol.

Having too much harmful cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of getting cardiovascular disease. The risk is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are another type of fatty substance in the blood. They’re found in foods such as dairy products, meat and cooking oils. They can also be produced in the body, either by the body’s fat stores or in the liver.

People with high triglyceride levels have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than people with lower levels. Those who are very overweight, eat a lot of fatty and sugary foods, or drink too much alcohol are more likely to have a high triglyceride level.

What causes high cholesterol?

Eating too much saturated fat is a common cause of high blood cholesterol levels. However, some people have high blood cholesterol even though they eat a healthy diet. For example, they may have inherited a condition called familial hyperlipidaemia (FH).

Certain foods such as egg yolk, liver, kidneys and some types of seafood eg. prawns, do contain cholesterol, but they do not usually make a great contribution to the level of cholesterol in your blood. It is more important that you reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat.

How you can I reduce my cholesterol level?

Cut down on saturated fats

Cut down on saturated fats and instead use unsaturated fats like olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils and spreads. You should also try to avoid trans fats wherever possible. These fats are most likely to be found in processed foods like biscuits and cakes, fast food, pastries and some margarine

Eat oily fish regularly

Oily fish provides omega-3 fats – the richest source of a particular type of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 from oily fish can help to lower blood triglyceride levels and help prevent the blood from clotting. It can also help keep your heart rhythm regular. Aim to have 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.

Eat a high-fibre diet

Choose foods that are high in soluble fibre such as oats, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre can help lower cholesterol.

Be physically active

Regular physical activity can help increase your HDL cholesterol (the good type of cholesterol).

Benefits of work past retirement includes preventing Alzheimer’s disease

It sounds like a ploy to keep baby boomers in the work force longer. But a new study indicates that delaying retirement will help decrease the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston. For every year of work past retirement age, the risk of getting dementia drops by 3.2 percent, scientists at INSERM, a French government health research agency told The Associated Press.
The study looked at records of 429,000 French workers age 74 on average. They had been retired for an average of 12 years. Nearly 3 percent had developed dementia, but the risk of getting it was lower for each year of age at retirement.
More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease in America. By 2025, the number of people at least age 65 with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to hit 7.1 million.
By 2050, 13.8 million people will in the United States are expected to have Alzheimer’s disease. There is no known cause or cure for the memory robbing disease.

Source: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/07/16/4347678/benefits-of-work-past-retirement.html

10 Superfoods That Prevent Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer and also the deadliest of all cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by 2020 the number of breast cancer cases will be much higher.

 In fact, it is believed that in coming few years one in every eight women would run the risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. This figure has been also estimated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

 Breast cancer is a complex disease, and many factors contribute to it such as genetics along with lifestyle and dietary factors.

 However breast cancer can be prevented with certain healthy habits such as limiting alcohol consumption, avoid smoking, controlling your weight, breast feeding, avoiding exposure to radiation and environmental pollution, and limiting the duration of hormone therapy, staying physically active and regular medical checkups.

 At the same time following a healthy diet plan can also reduce the risk of breast cancer to a great extent. There are certain food items that help to fight malignant cancer cells at the onset and thus help in preventing breast cancer.

 Here are 10 Superfoods to that Prevent Breast Cancer

  • Broccoli
  • Salmon
  •  Blueberries
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Garlic
  •  Pomegranate Juice
  •  Flaxseed
  •  Spinach
  •  Walnuts

 Source: http://www.authintmail.com/news/science/health/10-superfoods-prevent-breast-cancer?nopaging=1