Thursday, October 15, 2009

Breast Cancer Diet Connection

In honor of the 25th National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this article will discuss the likely relationship between breast cancer and diet. While there may be nothing that we can do guarantee that we will not get breast cancer in the future, there is a host of studies that report that there are several lifestyle changes that we can make to reduce risk.

As far as diet is concerned, research seems to confirm common sense. According to a September 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (Meat, dairy, and breast cancer: do we have an answer?) that women who stuck to what they called a “prudent” diet tend to have a lower risk for breast cancer. Researchers Eleni Linos and Walter Willet define this “prudent” diet as one that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish and low in red and processed meats, starchy carbohydrates and sweets.  During their study they found that with pre-menopausal, normal-weight women the risk for cancer declined as their scores on the “prudent” diet scale rose. In fact, those with the most prudent diets lessened their risk by a third!

There was little evidence that the more “prudent” diet lowered risk among postmenopausal or overweight women, although it was liked to a generally lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer — an aggressive type of tumor that accounts for about one-third of breast cancers.

Some common healthy foods that are believed to help prevent cancer are whole grains, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower), spinach, berries, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, ginger, green and black teas. Some foods to avoid or cut down on would be red meat, sugar, anything fried, foods that contain hydrogenated oils, such as stick margarine.

However, eating healthy food is not the only lifestyle choice that one can make that may reduce their risk of developing cancer. Another is exercising regularly, the American Cancer Society suggests 45-60 minutes of exercise 5 or more days a week. Losing weight if you are overweight is also beneficial, as is maintaining a healthy weight after menopause. Limit your intake of alcohol. Studies have found that having one or more drinks a day will increase a woman’s risk of developing hormone-sensitive (ER+/PR+) tumor, this type accounts for roughly 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer.

It is also very important to obtain a breast cancer risk assessment from a physician as well as an annual clinical breast exam. One should also remember to perform monthly breast self exams and make sure to get regular mammography screening once turning 40 years old.
Also, try to find a healthy way to manage the stress in your life and try to keep a positive mind set as often as possible. There isn’t a lot of evidence that this keeps the cancer away, but it certainly couldn’t hurt!

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