5 things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to helping increase attention and support for awareness of a disease that affects about 1.38 million women for the first time each year and sheds light on the importance of early detection.
Just as important as breast cancer awareness, though, is having awareness and knowledge about what you can do to preserve your own breast health to avoid disease.
About 10% of breast cancer cases are related to inherited gene mutations, and we all unfortunately probably know of someone who became ill without any of the obvious risk factors.
However, while we know that we cannot always prevent breast cancer, there is a ton of research supporting the idea that leading a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward keeping you cancer-free.
Here are 5 things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
1. Know your risk factors and stay on top of your breast health.
When it comes to your breast health, knowledge is power. Depending on your risk factors and family history, it may make sense for you to undergo a simple blood or saliva test to see if you have inherited gene mutations that would predispose you to breast cancer.
Having the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations increases your likelihood of developing breast cancer by the age of 80 by 72% and 69%, respectively, so having this information would allow you to come up with a more aggressive plan for prevention.
Family history or not, it’s also critical to determine, with the help of your doctor, when you should begin regular screening, and what type of testing is best for your body. In addition to mammography, doctors may opt to use ultrasound, MRI, or thermography.
2. Follow an anti-inflammatory/Mediterranean diet.
No surprise here, right? ? Add preventing breast cancer to the long list of big benefits that come from eating well. Food is medicine!
Focus on incorporating lots of fresh veggies, especially broccoli sprouts, kale, leafy greens, onions, and mushrooms, and fresh fruits, especially blueberries, raspberries, and the citrus type.
Including beans, nuts, and seeds, like walnuts and flax seeds, as well as good fats from things like olive oil and salmon, may also lower your risk of developing this disease. Even herbs and spices like parsley, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric have been shown to contain plant compounds that may help protect against breast cancer.
Likewise, it is best to steer clear of the typical culprits, like fast food (gasp!), processed meats, packaged foods which are high in sugar and refined carbs, and fried foods in order to stay healthy.
3. Avoid environmental toxins.
A growing body of research indicates that exposure to toxic chemicals may increase our risk of developing breast cancer. Taking a look at the ingredients that you are exposing yourself to on a regular basis, like beauty and personal care products and household cleaners, is a great place to start.
Choosing the right deodorant, skincare, cosmetic, and hair care products that are made from ingredients that are cleaner, safer, and less harmful to your health is key.
4. Know your melatonin levels.
A woman’s decreased level of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycle and a powerful antioxidant, has been found in a number of research studies to be associated with an increased risk for developing breast cancer. On the flip side, melatonin has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer cells, and is often prescribed to be taken in concert with Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy drug used to treat or prevent breast cancer, to increase its efficacy.
If you are deficient, melatonin can be safely taken for long periods of time. Working with your doctor to find the right dose for you at bedtime can work wonders.
The melatonin supplement I like to recommend to my clients is Herbatonin, a natural, plant-based melatonin supplement made from chlorella and alfalfa. Melatonin is also super powerful to support your immune system. Check out my latest blog on how melatonin can help during the COVID19 crisis.
5. Get plenty of exercise.
Another one of my non-negotiables for a healthy lifestyle: keep it moving! When it comes to reducing your risk of breast cancer, getting enough moderate-to-vigorous exercise each week (think brisk walking, biking, jogging, swimming, etc.) and avoiding long spells of inactivity, can help to keep you at a healthy weight, to keep your immune system running at full-capacity, and to regulate your hormones, including estrogen and insulin, which can fuel breast cancer growth.
If you’d like to discuss more of the topics discussed above, or about your health in general, I’d love to connect! SCHEDULE a 20-minute Discovery Call and let's chat.