October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I encourage you to use this month to spread awareness and get your yearly check-up. It is important to take time out of your day to actively participate in learning ways to prevent, plan and detect the disease.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime? Or that 231, 840 women and 2,350 men will be diagnosed this year? That’s right, women are not the only ones susceptible to developing breast cancer!!
Tackling Cancer Head On
We all know that early detection with regular mammograms is one of your best chances of beating breast cancer, but living a healthy lifestyle and eating a variety of foods can also reduce your risk. Remember, family history is only accountable for 20% of patients with breast cancer.
Here are 8 tips to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity, particularly after menopause, can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer. Aim for gradual weight loss by choosing minimally processed foods and eating smaller portions.
- Add more cruciferous vegetables to your meals. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage are considered cruciferous vegetables and they contain indole compounds. Indole compounds have been linked to lower rates of cancer and may even prevent tumor growth.
- Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like walnuts, fish and fish oils. This fatty acid has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce your risk of cancer and tumor growth as well.
- Choose foods that are orange-red in color. Carotenoids are a phytochemical found in orange-red fruits and vegetables like carrots, cantaloupes and butternut squash, and has been linked to lower rates of cancer. There is still more research being conducted on how these phytochemicals work, but the correlation between carotenoids and cancer is definitely a big one!
- Increase your intake of fiber! Researchers found that every 10 grams of added fiber you eat daily will decrease your cancer risk by 7 percent! Fiber can be found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
- Include a variety of foods rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in salmon, sardines, yogurt, cheese, and can be synthesized from the sun. A vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast cancer so it is important to make sure you are meeting the required amounts!
- Cut down on your alcohol Although 1 drink/day for women has been linked to better heart health, it can actually increase your risk of developing breast cancer. This risk increases as more alcohol is consumed. The American Cancer Society recommends that women drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink/day.
- Exercise regularly. In one study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours per week of brisk walking reduces your risk by 18% and 10 hours of brisk walking a week reduces your risk even more! Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly.
By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, and going for routine screenings, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Be sure to share these tips with the other women (or men!) in your life to help spread awareness and prevent breast cancer.
Your Turn to Take Action: Which tip(s) will you try out during the month of October? Let me know in the comments section below.