As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are so many ideas about what can reduce your breast cancer risk. I say, skip the off the wall ideas and stick to the tips that will also help your overall health. That way you get more bang for your buck. The good news is that if you already lead a healthy lifestyle, you most likely already incorporate most of these tips. Here are some tips to keep in mind this month and every month:
Watch Your Weight
Being overweight or obese can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. The greater the weight gain, the higher the risk. In fact, a recent study found that women who gained 44 to 64 pounds had a 56 percent higher risk and those who gained 88 to 108 pounds doubled theirs. Maintain a consistent healthy weight for your age and height for optimal health. Yo-yo weight gain and loss is also detrimental.
Studies have shown that women who work out regularly — and vigorously — have a 20 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who rarely exercise. This will also help with fending off weight gain.
Studies have convincingly shown that alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. And the more you drink, both in terms of number of glasses and number of years, the greater the risk. One recent study found that even moderate drinking drove breast cancer rates up by 35 percent. Heavy drinking resulted in an almost two-fold increased risk. Along with cutting back, you might want to take a folic acid supplement: Some studies have suggested that supplementation can mitigate the impact of alcohol.
Add soy to your diet
Women who consume soy as part of their regular diet (not just soy supplements), have a decreased risk of breast cancer.
Eat your veggies
Add some veggies and fruit to your diet. A recent report found that women who had already been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer were less likely to develop another tumor if they consumed more fruits and vegetables. During the six-year study, researchers followed more than 3,000 women and regularly tested the women’s blood for levels of carotenoid, a substance that comes primarily from eating fruits and vegetables.
Drink green tea
Coffee or tea, anyone? Over the years there have been mixed results in studies examining the impact of coffee and tea on breast cancer. But a recent study that looked at more than 2,000 Chinese women found that the risk of developing cancer dropped by 40 percent among women who consumed large amounts of green tea. Another study found that coffee could reduce a premenopausal woman’s risk by 40 percent if she drank upwards of four cups per day. So far, nobody’s found any benefit to drinking black tea.
If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, steer clear of secondhand smoke. Until recently, scientists hadn’t found a consistent link between breast cancer and smoking. But recent studies point to a 20 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer among smokers. And non-smokers who have had long-term exposure to secondhand smoke may experience a hike of almost 70 percent, according to a study done by the California Environmental Protection Agency.
As far as nutrition, here is a list from Self Magazine on what to eat more of and less of:
Load up on…
– Brewed beverages Coffee, black tea, green tea. Foods with quercetin, such as tea, may protect against lung cancer.
– Dairy Lowfat and skim milk, lowfat and nonfat yogurt (preferably all-natural)
– Fresh fruit Apples, apricots, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), cantaloupes, cherries, clementines, cranberries, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, grapes, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelons
– Fresh veggies Artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chiles, corn, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips, watercress
– Herbs and spices Cilantro, cloves, garlic, ginger, mint, rosemary, sage, turmeric
– Legumes Beans (black, kidney, lima, navy, pinto), chickpeas, lentils
– Seafood Halibut, herring, wild salmon, tuna. In addition to omega-3s, the swimmers contain the antioxidant vitamin E.
– Whole grains Breads, oatmeal, pastas, whole-grain and high-fiber cereals
Lighten up on…
– Artificial sweeteners The jury is out on fake sugars and cancer; limit yourself to three servings or packets per day.
– Barbecued meats Cooking meats at high temperatures (as well as charring them) creates cancer-causing chemicals.
– Butter Spread this news: Butter may be linked to an increased risk for lung cancer.
– Fast food Convenience chow contributes to weight gain, which raises cancer risk.
– Red and processed meats Bacon, beef, cold cuts, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, lamb, liver, pork, pork sausage, salami, steak
– Salt Pepper’s partner (and salty foods in general) may contribute to stomach cancer.
– Smoked foods In particular, smoked meats are linked to stomach cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month