Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it."
-C.C. Scott

Good morning everyone,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I would like to take a moment to honor all of the men and women who have been affected by this terrible disease. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and fought it, you are truly a hero. Your strength and courage inspires me, and I am forever grateful for your heroic example.
According to the American Cancer Society, 207,090 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year. Although there is no 100% effective way to prevent breast cancer, there are some things you can do to improve your odds of avoiding this disease:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25) throughout your life. Weight gain in midlife, independent of BMI, has been shown to significantly increase your risk of breast cancer.
  2. Minimize or avoid alcohol. Alcohol use is the most well established dietary risk factor for breast cancer. Research conducted by The Harvard Nurses' Health study, has shown consuming more than one alcoholic beverage a day can increase breast cancer risk by as much as 20-25%. These are huge percentages that are totally within our control.
  3. Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Aim for seven or more servings daily. The superstars for breast cancer protection include all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower); dark leafy greens (collards, kale, spinach); carrots and tomatoes. The rockstar fruits include citrus, berries and cherries. Be careful not to overcook your cruciferous vegetables as this can kill the cancer fighting phytochemicals they contain.
  4. Exercise regularly for the rest of your life. Many studies have shown that regular exercise provides powerful protection against breast cancer as well as many other types of cancer. We should aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) five or more days a week. Consistency and duration, not intensity, are key! Find an activity you enjoy, grab a girl friend and get moving!
  5. Eat the correct types of fats. The type of fat you consume can affect your breast cancer risk. Try to minimize your consumption of omega-6 fats (sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils), saturated fats and trans fats. Increase your intake of omega-3 fats, especially from oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and herring). You should also consume monounsaturated oils (canola, olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocados) as your primary fat source, as these foods have potential anticancer properties. Specifically, canola oil is a good source of omega-3 fats; extra virgin olive oil is a potent source of antioxidant polyphenols, including squalene; and nuts and seeds provide you with the cancer protective mineral, selenium. Try swapping salmon for grilled chicken on your salad, switch to olive oil based dressing, and throw some avocado on top of your next sandwich!
  6. Say Yes to healthy carbs! Try to limit your consumption of the high glycemic index carbs such as white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar and products containing them. These foods trigger hormonal changes that promote cellular growth in breast tissue. Replace these "white" carbs with whole grains and beans/legumes. Beans/legumes because of their high fiber and lignan content are especially beneficial. With the cold weather approaching, try making a bean chili or adding beans to your favorite stew instead of white potatoes.
  7. Consume whole food soy products regularly, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk and miso. Only consume organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) soy. Epidemiologic studies have shown a positive association between soy consumption and reduced breast cancer risk. I read this tip about a year ago and switched to soy milk. I have absolutely fallen in love with it and use it in everything from baked goods, to coffee, to cereal. If you haven't tried it yet, you should really give soy milk a try. I suggest Silk Light Vanilla!
  8. Minimize exposure to pharmacologic estrogen and xeno-estrogens. Avoid prescription estrogen unless instructed by a doctor. Lifetime exposure to estrogen plays a fundamental role in the development of breast cancer. Also, avoid estrogen-like compounds that can be found in environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. We should also minimize our exposure to hormones found in non-organic dairy.
  9. Don't forget your vitamins! Aim for 500-1,000mg of vitamin C, 200-400IUs of vitamin E, and pharmaceutical grade fish oil daily. You might want to break these up throughout the day, and make sure you always take them with food, which helps with absorption. Also, take 200 mcg of the mineral selenium or you could eat one to two Brazil nuts as an alternative. If you have a chronic medical condition or take prescription drugs, consult your physician first.
  10. Don't Worry, Be Happy! Research has shown a strong mind-body connection to breast cancer. We should all regularly engage in self-nurturing behavior and develop rich and mutually beneficial relationships with family and friends. It is also very important to get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night). Make a date with your pillow and keep it!
Information is taken from The Huffington Post. For even more information on reducing your risk, see the attached articles below.

If you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, than you know how real and devastating this disease can be. Although we can't control God's plan for our lives, we can control the environmental factors that contribute to this disease. You only have one body and one life, so take care of them both with healthy living and a lot of self-love!

Yours truly,

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3 Responses to “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”

  1. What about Krill oil? Does it have the right balance of omegas 3 and 6? I read about it here .

  2. I could only find one article about krill oil and its effects on breast cancer. Most of the research that I found showed a relationship between omega-3's and a reduced risk of breast cancer. I think it is the consumption of omega-3's that reduces the risk of cancer not necessarily the particular type of oil. I would always double check with your doctor, but from the research I have read both fish oil and krill oil have the potential for lowering your risk of breast cancer.

  3. just want to mention I love your blog!!!! Great source of information!


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