The amount of money and research behind breast cancer grows significantly every year. Our country even dedicate an entire pink-clad month to fighting the vicious killer of our mothers and sisters. Thankfully, all of this momentum and attention triggers new discoveries, diagnostic developments, and treatments every year.
While these discoveries bring us closer to defeating breast cancer, we still have a long way to go. We still need to be vigilant of our own health and the health of our environments.
There’s no way we can change our genetics, age, or past environmental exposures, but we can take control of the preventable factors that increase our risk of developing breast cancer. By exercising, eating right, losing extra weight, and adjusting our habits, we can take a proactive stance against the cancer this month is dedicated to.
One of your best allies against breast cancer, among many other health conditions, is an active lifestyle. Exercise reduces your chances of getting breast cancer and the risk of it recurring.
Strength training, in particular, gives you a bit of an extra buffer against breast cancer. One study shows how low muscle mass creates a poorer long-term prognosis for women with breast cancer, so don’t be afraid of the weight room, ladies!
Regular exercise, including resistance training, is also important for women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer. The physical training makes it easier to perform everyday activities, maintain function, resist treatment-related fatigue, and bounce back during the recovery process.
Act now: Make sure you’re getting the recommended 5-6 days of physical activity per week, including at least 2 strength training sessions.
No food or diet plan gives you foolproof protection against breast cancer, but your food choices do impact your overall disease risk and how well your body functions. Deep-fried, sugar-laden, and processed foods hold you back from your full potential while whole, nutritious foods promote your healthiest self.
The American Cancer Society mentions how women who eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat tend to live longer. While the connection between diet and breast cancer is unclear, the way you eat clearly does impact your whole picture of health.
The case for soy products and dietary supplements is still up in question, so it’s important to discuss these with your doctor. Some interesting new research does suggest a correlation between obesity, low vitamin D levels, and an increased risk for breast cancer, so it might be worth looking into.
Act now: If you’re not already eating bounties of produce and moderate amounts of whole grains and lean protein, start making the transition now. The health benefits of eating this way transcend current literature in ways we don’t even understand yet.
Lose Extra Pounds
Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women. Being overweight or obese is also linked to other major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Weight loss is the best antidote for the sake of your breasts and the rest of your body.
Researchers think the constant low-level inflammation characteristic of obesity eventually leads to DNA changes. Extra fat tissue also appears to produce the higher levels of estrogen related to breast cancer.
Science and research don’t have all the answers yet, but if you take a step back from the detailed data, you can see how a healthy weight seems to balance the body in a practical sense.
Act now: If you could use some support losing weight, gather a team of professionals to help you shed excess pounds. Your doctor, personal trainer, and nutrition counselor can help you cover all the facets of weight loss.
Change your lifestyle habits
Smoking increases your risk of developing breast cancer by up to 35% and increases the risk of dying from diagnosed breast cancer by 28%. Not only does smoking make you more likely to develop breast cancer, but it also increases your risk of developing other cancers like lung, kidney, liver, pancreatic, and colon cancers.
One of the best ways to improve your entire picture of health is to quit smoking if you smoke. After you quit smoking, your risk of developing breast cancer shrinks to nearly that of a person who never smoked.
Act now: quit smoking, already.
If you like to drink more than occasionally, listen up! Drinking more than one drink per day is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer.
The next time you reach for your nightly glass of wine or go out on the weekend, consider whether or not the instant gratification from the alcohols is worth the cancer risk?
Act now: limit your drinking to one serving of alcohol per day or less, preferably red wine.
By changing your habits, you have the potential to change the entire course of your health history. Every workout, every meal, every social gathering is a chance to make a movement in a healthy direction.
Which way are you headed?