Chances are you, or someone you know, currently has or has battled breast cancer. I know that my life has been touched by it as I have had friends and family successfully defeat this disease. The statistics are there – each year, approximately 192,000 women and 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. There are different types of breast cancer and different treatment options. Most importantly, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer and of course, early detection is key to improving your survival.
- Age – the risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older. Most women are diagnosed after the age of 60.
- Family history – if a first degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) has breast cancer, your risk is increased. Having relatives on either side of the family that have had breast or ovarian cancer also increases risk.
- Genes – Changes in the the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increases your risk.
- Race – in the United States, risk is higher in Caucasian women than women of other races.
- Breast density – Women whose breasts appear on a mammogram with increased density have a higher risk.
- Menstrual and Reproductive history – You have an increased risk if you started menstruating before age 12; went through menopause after the age 55; have never had children; had a child later in life.
- Being overweight or obese – carrying extra body fat produces more estrogen, which increases risk.
- Lack of physical activity – women who are inactive have an increased risk.
- Alcohol – women who consume alcohol regularly (more than 1 drink a day) have an increased risk.
How to reduce your risk
Although there is conflicting information out there about the role that diet plays in reducing your risk, there’s no doubt that clean eating, as promoted here at U Rock Girl, will help to improve your health. The following nutrition recommendations will flood your body with antioxidants, reduce inflammation, maintain blood sugar stability, promote mental clarity, and improve your mood.
- Choose deep-colored fruits and vegetables, making sure to pick a broad spectrum of colors each day.
- Choose whole, minimally-processed grains, such as quinoa, barley, rolled or steel-cut oats, bulgur, brown rice, spelt, buckwheat, teff, millet, whole wheat couscous, and amaranth.
- Select lean protein, such as fish, shellfish, skinless poultry breast, tofu, lean meat, nonfat dairy, beans, and lentils.
- Higher fat proteins, such as nuts, nut butters, and Omega 3-rich fatty fish should be included daily.
- Healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts, ground flax seed, and olive oil are an important part of most meals.
- Reduce intake of sugar, white refined flour products, fried food, fast food, “junk food”, soda.
- Eat every 2-4 hours.
- Half of your plate should be covered by produce, one-quarter by whole grains, and one-quarter with protein.
- Drink plenty of water, green tea, and herbal tea each day.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do your monthly breast exams, eat right, get active, and encourage all of the women in your lives to do the same.