Breast cancer awareness month is a time to increase awareness of a disease that affects millions of women. Many people are aware of breast cancer but may not know the simple ways that a healthy diet and regular exercise program can help reduce the risk of breast cancer for themselves, and the women they love.
In the fight against breast cancer, a diet rich in whole raw foods including lots of fruits and vegetables is key. While there are many other factors, a healthy diet can help keep your body in it’s natural state of health helping to ward off all infections. Great nutrition offers hope to even those who are fighting the battle right now, and here’s why. Research has confirmed that certain foods can be used as a preventative measure to protect against disease, specifically breast cancer. Add the following foods to your plate and use one of the most powerful tools on Earth at preventing breast cancer: food.
Fiber - Researchers continue to show the link between eating fiber, and the reduction in breast cancer risk. Both soluble and insoluble fiber have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk when consumed daily (about 30 grams per day). Studies have shown that a significant risk reduction (32%) of breast cancer was noted when women consumed 30 grams of fiber a day, when compared to women who ate less than 25 grams per day, and only had a minimal risk reduction (2%).
Healthy Fats – Healthy fats contain essential fatty acids, called “essential” because your body does not produce them, and they have to be taken in through diet. These fatty acids include omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids and can be found in fish, seeds, nuts and oils. Research suggests that omega fats are particularly important to breast health.
Cruciferous Vegetables – These include arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. Rich in phytochemicals including sulforaphane, these foods contain protective compounds that help prevent cancer.
Folate – Research has shown that women with higher folate levels may have up to a 44% lower risk of breast cancer. Find folate in lentils, romaine lettuce, spinach, kidney beans, broccoli, asparagus, whole wheat bread and oranges.
Did you know that just doing moderate exercise 4-5 times a week can significantly lower your breast cancer risk. A recent study suggests that women who exercise may cut their risk of breast cancer by as much as 30 percent?(1)
This study also showed that weight gain may undermine the benefits of exercise. The report, published in the June online edition of Cancer, contained data from over 1,500 women with breast cancer, and a similar number of women who did not have the disease. Results showed that women who exercised before or after menopause had a reduced risk of breast cancer. Women who exercised between 10 and 19 hours a week noticed the greatest benefits (about 30% reduction in risk). Experts believe that leading an overall healthy lifestyle contributes to reducing cancer risk. Among even the active women, gaining a significant amount of weight, especially after menopause increased the risk of breast cancer, negating the beneficial effects of exercise.
Watch this short video for more information on how exercise can help lower your breast cancer risk:
Lauren McCullough, M.S.P.H., University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; June 25, 2012, Cancer, online