Absolutely! You have the power to keep your body in optimum condition. Diet, exercise, nurturing relationships, and a balanced approach to life's ups and downs can go a long way to protecting your body from disease.
Here are some of the most important lifestyle modifications you can make towards preventing breast cancer:
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, take steps to lose the extra pounds. Losing weight will not only help protect you against developing a wide range of disease, from diabetes to different cancers, it will improve your quality of life!
Consume less animal fat. Opt for more vegetarian sources of protein, such as legumes. Choose lower-fat animal products, such as chicken without skin. Switch to skim milk.
Consume more soy products. Women from Asian countries consume higher amounts of soy products than women in the United States and have a lower risk of breast cancer. Try soy milk on your cereal, and tofu in stir-fry and pastas.
Consume at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Choose a variety of colors of produce to get the most benefit. An orange with breakfast, apple for mid-morning snack, tossed salad and mixed fruit for lunch, raw veggies for an afternoon snack, two types of vegetables for supper, and a late-night banana add up to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Overall, women drinking 2 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day had a 40% greater risk of breast cancer than did non-drinkers. Some studies show that even one glass of wine or one bottle of beer per day increases the risk by 9% more than that of non-drinkers.
Consume 25-35 grams of fiber each day. Legumes (dried beans and peas such as black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils and split peas) contain more fiber than any other type of food. Include legumes in your rice dishes, salads, or soups. Whole-grain cereals are also a good source of fiber; check the label for the exact fiber content. Whenever you increase your fiber intake, you also need to drink adequate fluids. At least 64 ounces of water each day is recommended.
Drink tea instead of coffee. Both green and black tea appear to be protective.
Choose less-processed foods. Go for fresh fruit, brown rice instead of boxed mixes, homemade soups, and your own frozen dinners made from your leftovers.
Don't smoke. Although the verdict is still out on the link between smoking and breast cancer, tobacco is known to cause other cancers, notably lung cancer. But the bottom line is, smoking is not good for you; it sabotages your overall health and well being. If you smoke, get help and quit! (Easier said than done, but you can do it!)
Get regular exercise. Exercise is one of the greatest gifts you can give your body and mind. Also, exercise can help protect you against a number of diseases, including breast cancer. Consider this: older women who exercise may be less likely than their inactive peers to develop breast cancer. Women who biked or walked for more than an hour each day had a 19% reduction in their odds of developing breast cancer.
Make time for at least 15 minutes each day when you can relax. Mediation, deep breathing, and yoga are all wonderful options to help maintain balance.
And last but not least: commit yourself to a diligent screening regimen. Be sure to do monthly self breast exams and get annual mammograms. Your best defense against breast cancer is early detection, and appropriate and timely treatment if the disease is detected.