Make no mistake about it, breast cancer is a killer. It accounts for over half a million deaths in women world-wide and almost 1% of all deaths in one year. The US has the highest rate of deaths from breast cancer in the world.
These are extremely sobering facts. The really sad fact about this is that apart from genetic issues, most of these deaths are preventable. Lifestyle, obesity, diet, lack of exercise and stress all play a part in determining the risk of whether anyone get cancer. Age is also a factor, less than 5% cases of breast cancers occur in women under 40 years of age.
The first step in correcting any problem is awareness and knowledge. Awareness can help to understand if your risk factor is low or high and knowledge can give you the power to change it. The relationship between lifestyle and cancer risk makes it so important to keep to a healthy lifestyle or take urgent steps to correct your lifestyle if it is increasing your risk.
What is a Healthy Diet?
Your body is made up of the food you eat, so if you consume unhealthy foods, it follows that you will have an unhealthy body, with all the health risks that go along with it including breast cancer.
The general outlines for a healthy diet are :
- Increase intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- When it comes to protein, fish, poultry, nuts and beans are the best choices.
- Vitamin D and Calcium are very important.
- Decrease your fat intake to less than 30% of the total calories consumed.
- Reduce or eliminate consumption of all processed foods.
- Achieve and maintain your weight correct for your height and build.
- If you drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum.
- Although not part of diet – Do NOT Smoke.
Vegetable and Fruit
The foundation of any healthy diet is plenty of fresh, organic if possible, vegetables and fruit.
All fruits, vegetables and whole grains are known to contain phytochemicals that exibit many antioxidant properties that may prevent cancer. A minimum of five, preferable seven servings of fruit and vegetables every day. is recommended by nutritional experts. Cruciferous vegetables such has broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts are especially rich in phytochemicals and should be a major part of any healthy diet.
Studies have shown that women who consume one to two servings of brassica vegetables every day have a 42% reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
Whole grains are also another important part of a healthy diet. They are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. A diet with the right amount of fiber is essential in keeping the bowel healthy and active. Research indicates that over 60% of the strength of your immune system is determined by the bacteria in the bowel and the bowel needs sufficient fiber in the diet if it to work properly.
The level of hormones in the human body is normally tightly controlled, but if the level of hormones is too high, this can alter the way in which cells grow, divide and die and can lead to uncontrolled growth and later cancer.
A high fiber intake may have a positive benefit by altering hormonal actions of breast cancer and other hormonal-dependent cancers. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that children and adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories of food they eat each day.
Mushrooms and Green Tea
One very useful tip is to eat mushrooms and drink green tea on a regular basis. A study of over 2,000 women indicates that women who ate mushrooms regularly had a 50% lower rate of breast cancer and when combined with drinking green tea, the risk was lowered by 90%.
The Best types of Fat
Keep your fat intake to less than 30% of the total calories consumed and try and use healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil (especially for cooking) palm oil, avocados and butter (only from grass fed cows)
Processed foods contain very high levels of the wrong types of saturated fat, sugar and salt. Some also are produced using trans fats, which are extremely damaging to health. Added to this are the food colorings, preservatives and other artificial chemicals added to give what are usually very poor ingredients, some kind of taste.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D is needed by the body to absorp calcium effectively. Without sufficient calcium and vitamin D, bones can become thin and brittle. Vitamin D has many other roles in the body including maintenance of the immune system, control of neuromuscular functions and reduction of inflammation.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but supplements can be used in the winter. Consult your health advisor for safe dosage guidlines. Calcium can be obtained from milk, tofu and vegetables such as curly kale, okra, horseradish and watercress.
Weight and Obesity
There is substantial data that shows there is a proven link between obesity and the increased risk of cancer as well as many of the other health issues that are common at present. If you are overweight by more than a few pounds, it is advisable to find a method that suits you to help you lose weight.
You can use the BMI calculator below to check your weight.
Supplied by BMI Calculator USA
The cancer risk for women who drink is directly related to the amount of alcohol they consume. Recent evidence has related even moderate alcohol consumption by women, just one drink per day, with a 10 percent increase in breast cancer risk compared with non-drinking women whilst while women who consumed two drinks per day had a more than 50 percent chance of getting cancer.
If you can avoid drink this is always the best solution, but if you can’t live without alcohol, try and remember the risks you are taking and minimise your consumption. Binge drinking is especially unhealthy for anyone, including women who have a lower alcohol tolerance compared to men.
Although smoking is not considered part of a diet, it has to be said that smoking as well as increasing your chance of lung cancer has a serious effect on all the processes of the body and will definitely increase your cancer risk, including your risk of breast cancer.
Care of your breasts is an ongoing process.