Reduce Breast Cancer Risks Through Nutrition

Posted by Scott McKenzie on 10/10/2016 to Health Tips

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in eight women (or about 12%) is affected by this disease. In 2016 there will be an estimated 246,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed. However, the death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989 due to the rise of new technology, early detection and greater awareness. While there is no known cure at this time, there are steps that can be taken to minimize certain risk factors that may lead to breast cancer.

If breast cancer runs in the family there is an increased genetic predisposition to the disease. Knowing family history and being aware of an increased risk factor can aid in early detection and treatment. Monthly self-examination is important by becoming aware of the shape, feel and form of the breasts. Self-exams are generally the best way to detect breast cancer early and early detection increases the survival rate upon diagnosis. Exercise may serve to protect against breast cancer by helping to maintain a healthy weight and improving “good” estrogen levels. There are indications in studies performed by the American Cancer Society that obesity may be a factor in a higher risk of breast cancer, particularly if obesity occurs later in life.

Ask your physician to check the density of the breast. More tissue than fat makes it difficult to detect early forms of breast cancer. The density of the breast may increase the risk factor of breast cancer by up to six times. Breast feeding may reduce the risk factors in breast cancer occurrence. Some studies point to the idea that the longer a woman breasts feeds in a child’s infancy, the more protection she has against breast cancer. Hormonal therapy and dosage for menopausal symptoms beyond three years may increase the risks of breast cancer. The Mayo Clinic recommends women undergoing hormonal treatment check with their physicians about possible non-hormonal therapy or medicinal options to treat symptoms related to menopause.

Avoid exposure to excessive ionizing radiation. Studies have proven radiation can mutate the DNA in cells causing the cells to go cancerous. Generally, most doctors will only schedule medical imaging if absolutely necessary. If a question arises about the need for medical imaging, ask your physician if the image is necessary or seek a second opinion.

Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day and don’t smoke. Excessive alcohol use and the carcinogens in nicotine have been shown to increase the risk factors in breast and other cancers. Finally, women eating a healthy diet of vegetables rich in carotenoids, flavenoids and phytonutrients such as leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes and Aronia Berries have had a lower risk in developing the more aggressive forms of breast cancer. Limit red and processed meat intake, eat foods higher in fiber and whole grains and stay away from the processed sugars.

Recommendations to begin screenings for breast cancer range in age from the early 40’s to age 50, or earlier depending on certain familial and other risk factors involved. Because everyone is different, the best course is to check with your family physician to determine when it’s best to start the screening process for breast cancer.

In the meantime, think pink and educate yourself in the nuances of better health and wellness.