You have tremendous power to influence your health, including your risk of developing breast cancer. The key is to embrace and nurture that power. Dietary and lifestyle choices top the list of factors you can control.
Below are the most important lifestyle choices you can make to decrease your risk of breast cancer, and you have the power to do each of them!
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight take steps to lose the extra poundsóthis 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 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 those 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!
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Overall, women drinking 2 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day had a 40% greater risk of the disease than non-drinkers. Some studies show that even one glass of wine or one bottle of beer per day increases the risk by 9%. than 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 them in your diet in rice dishes, salads or soups. Whole-grain cereals are also a good source of fiber; check the label for the exact 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 from leftovers.
Donít smoke. While the verdict is still out on the link between smoking and breast cancer, tobaccos 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 regularly exercise. Exercise is one of the greatest gifts you can give your body and mind. It can also 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 where 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 regime. 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 is the disease is detected.
Having a child before you are 30 and breast feeding are two factors which are known to decrease risk, and these are two factors you can control. But does this mean you should make these decisions based on breast cancer risk? Absolutely not! If a woman decides to have a child, she should do so on her and her partnerís terms. Of course, childbirth can be planned, but it is not something that can be pre-scheduled, and definitely not something that should not be forced or rushed to make a cut-off date. The stress of a hasty or ill founded decision is potentially far more damaging than giving birth after 35. Breast feeding is also a very personal decision. It works with some woman and not for others. If you opt to breast feed your child, do so because it is the best option for you and your baby, not because it might have a small impact on your risk of getting breast cancer. Remember, both of these factors are but two of many that contribute to a womanís breast cancer risk.