We’ve all heard the statistics that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But did you know that in 2012, nearly 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed worldwide, making up one-quarter of new cancer cases in women? The BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for 20-25% of all inherited breast cancers, and about 5-10% of all breast cancers. This is good news in that the remaining breast cancer diagnoses are not inherited and can be minimized and even prevented by making these 10 changes to your daily routine. How many are you already doing?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on my 39th birthday. I had always thought I lived a healthy life, but cancer looks for environments where it can thrive. One thing I learned over the years that has been a game-changer is that simple concept. You don’t want your body to be hospitable to cancer, and if you are a survivor, you don’t want it to come back. These 10 things will help you to make your body a breast cancer prevention machine.
1. Get Physical
In a 2014 American Cancer Society prevention study, active women had a 25% reduction in risk compared to less active women. In fact, just seven hours of walking a week resulted in a 14% reduction in risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Don’t have the time or don’t like to exercise? Don’t let that be an excuse. Go for a walk. Take the stairs. Play outside with your kids.
Johns Hopkins compiled a list of guidelines for healthy eating which was taken from the National Cancer Institute. Enjoy five or more servings of fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants, antiestrogen, and chemopreventive properties. Decrease your fat intake to less than 30% of your overall calorie consumption, and minimize highly saturated fats such as beef, cheese, cream, butter, ice cream. Instead, consume omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, legumes, and lentils. Swap out one night’s dinner of red meat for salmon. Stock your refrigerator with seasonal fruit. Create a Pinterest board to keep your favorite healthy recipes.
More great ways to help prevent cancer is to balance your mind and body to reduce stress. Increased and prolonged stress can cause an inflammatory response in your body and also cause you to engage in unhealthy habits such as overeating, smoking, drinking, and not exercising.
3. Practice Yoga and/or Meditation
Yoga is a great way to balance your mind and body. Start each morning with three sun salutations and greet the day with your favorite prayer or meditation. Take stretching and breathing breaks at your desk at work. Find some great yoga classes on YouTube – many are 10-15 minutes long to accommodate a busy schedule.
4. Practice Breathing Exercises
Feeling stress or overwhelmed? Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Close your eyes. Breathe in for five counts. Hold for five counts. Breathe out for five counts.
5. Have a Spirit of Forgiveness and Gratitude
Stuck in traffic? Be grateful you have a car to drive. Stressed about your job? Be grateful you are employed. Did someone wrong you? Forgive and forget. Let go of your stressors, and adopt an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness.
Detoxify your home by minimizing or eliminating all of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals and carcinogens.
6. Eliminate Toxins
What are the top toxins to look out for? Bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, and parabens. Be diligent about learning where they are found and reading labels of your consumer products. The Environmental Working Group maintains a database of many products and their ingredients.
BPA is found in many places including plastics and canned goods. Use glass or ceramic containers and look for “BPA-free” on your items. Another place BPA likes to hide is in your cash register receipts. Phthalates are frequently found in air fresheners, cosmetics, detergents, toys, paint, and vinyl shower curtains. Parabens are found in lotions, creams, and deodorants. Be diligent about reading labels and purchase all natural products.
The final four steps you can take to help prevent cancer are (not-so) obvious.
7. Stop Smoking
According to a 2013 study in the Journal of National Cancer Institute, smokers have a 24% higher risk of invasive breast cancer than non-smokers. Stop smoking. Period.
8. Minimize or Avoid Alcohol
You may want to think twice before ordering that second cocktail. Women who consume at least two drinks a day are 51% more likely than non-drinkers to be diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, consuming even three to six alcoholic beverages a week can increase your risk by 15%. Enjoy sparkling water in a wine glass instead of that second glass of wine.
9. Get Enough Sleep
Researchers have found that a lack of sleep increases inflammation and disrupts normal immune function, both of which may promote cancer. A 2012 study found that women may develop a more aggressive cancer if they consistently lack sleep. Ditch the afternoon coffee, go to bed on time, and shut off your electronics.
10. Self-Breast Exams
While mammograms are the norm for women over 40, regular breast self-exams can help women find irregularities and lumps on their own. It is estimated that over 13,000 women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and nearly 1,200 women under 40 will die of breast cancer every year. It is more difficult to diagnose breast cancer in women under the age of 40, and the cancer is typically more aggressive. Factors such as dense breasts, doctors not taking their patients seriously, and the feeling of being young and invincible are often to blame. Take the time to learn how to properly conduct a breast self-exam and schedule it monthly. If something seems off, be sure to see a doctor immediately.
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Love, hugs, and gaining healthy habits for life.HERE. Sources: GLOBOCAN 2012 Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality, and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012, International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organization 2012. BRCA Fact Sheet, National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet Hildebrand JS, Gapstur SM, Campbell PT, Gaudet MM, Patel AV. “Recreational physical activity and leisure-time sitting in relation to postmenopausal breast cancer risk,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/breast_center/treatments_services/nutrition.html Active Smoking and Breast Cancer Risk: Original Cohort Data and Meta-analysis. Published early online February 28, 2013 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. First author: Mia Gaudet, PhD, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga. Key TJ, Appleby PN, Reeves GK, “Body mass index, serum sex hormones, and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women,” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 “Researchers are studying the link between sleep and cancer,” Cancer Treatment Centers of America:http://www.cancercenter.com/community/newsletter/article/researchers-are-studying-the-link-between-sleep-and-cancer/ “Breast Cancer in Young Women,” Young Survival Coalition: https://www.youngsurvival.org/breast-cancer-in-young-women/learn/statistics-and-disparities