Many factors are linked to breast cancer risk. Some—such as an inherited gene mutation, simply being a woman, and getting older—you can’t change. But there are a lot you can. Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research estimate that healthy lifestyle habits could help prevent 38 percent of the breast cancer cases diagnosed every year in the U.S. Here, ways that studies suggest you can protect yourself.
There is strong evidence that being physically active can help protect against breast cancer. Brisk walking of at least 75 minutes a week may lower risk by 18 percent. And exercising 10 to 19 hours a week may reduce your risk by approximately 30 percent. A good goal is an hour a day, five days a week.
2. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT (A BMI OF 18.5 TO 24.9)
This is important to follow throughout your life because putting on 20 pounds or more after the age of 18 can significantly impact breast cancer risk, and being overweight after menopause can increase your risk by 30 to 60 percent.
3. EAT A WELL-ROUNDED, PLANT-BASED DIET
No single food by itself has been shown to protect against cancer, but try to fill at least two thirds of your plate with plant foods—lots of colorful vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans—and no more than one third with animal protein. Fiber is essential, and berries, cruciferous vegetables, and green tea may be particularly beneficial. Moderate amounts of whole-soy foods are okay, but avoid soy supplements.
· Drink alcohol sparingly. Three to six drinks a week could increase your risk by 15 percent, two or more a day by 51 percent.
· Get plenty of folate, especially if you do drink, because low levels may leave you particularly vulnerable. Good sources are dried beans and peas, leafy greens, and fruits. Or take 400 mcg. of folic acid daily.
· Grilling meat can produce carcinogens. Marinate, precook, and grill at lower temperatures to keep it from charring. Cut your risk further by adding rosemary and cancer-fighting spices like turmeric and cumin.
4. BREAST-FEED IF YOU CAN
Experts recommend nursing exclusively for six months. Protection is believed to come in part from a reduction in lifetime exposure to estrogen, a key factor in the growth of breast cancer tumors.
5. AVOID HORMONE THERAPY
If you and your doctor feel that you need it to alleviate menopausal symptoms, take the lowest dose that works and for the shortest amount of time.
6. EAT RED AND PURPLE GRAPES
They contain resveratrol, which may block the development of breast cancer. Resveratrol is concentrated in the skin of the fruit, so juice doesn’t pack as much punch, and green varieties contain significantly less.
7. SPRINKLE FLAXSEEDS ON FOOD
Flaxseeds contain lignans, antioxidants that may have an anticancer effect. Add a tablespoon to cereal or yogurt, or sprinkle over a salad.
8. SNACK ON WALNUTS
A recent study done on mice has shown that eating walnuts daily may reduce risk.
9. CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS
Many women are lacking in this vitamin, a deficiency associated with breast cancer risk. A typical supplemental daily dose is 600 to 2,000 IUs.
10. TAKE FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS CONTAINING OMEGA-3S
They may help fend off cancer, but make sure the supplements are from mercury-free fish; take 1,000 to 2,000 mg. each day. Check out brands at consumerlab.com.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR