October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Seeing pink? I’m sure you’ve noticed that pink is everywhere this month– the potato chips bags, Facebook profile pictures and even on the football fields. Companies and charities are donning pink ribbons to increase awareness of this deadly health threat. While I support the cause of awareness, I could rant all day about the placement of a pink ribbon on a fried chicken bucket. Instead, I want to focus on what we women can do to protect ourselves against this serious disease. Below are 10 steps women can take to lower risk for breast cancer.
1. Eat less saturated & trans fats and replace with monounsaturated fats. Saturated and trans fats can increase cancer risk while monounsaturated fats may lower the risk.
- Saturated fats: Eat less whole milk, fatty cuts of meat, butter, lard, fried foods and fast food.
- Trans fats: Eat less stick margarine, chips, snack crackers, fried foods and fast food.
- Monounsaturated fats: Eat more olive oil, canola oil and nuts. Make olive or canola oils your choice for cooking and use them to make your own salad dressings. Eat a handful of any unsalted or lightly salted nuts each day.
2. Limit your intake of processed foods. The less that has been done to your food, the better. Choose your lean meat and protein foods from the dairy or butcher area instead of the packaged meat or deli area. Foods high in nitrates (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, deli meat) may increase cancer risk.
3. Aim for 2 to 3 cups of vegetables & 3 pieces of fresh fruit every day. Anti-cancer nutrients are abundant in fruits and vegetables. Eating these antioxidants and phytochemicals can provide your body with all kinds of protective benefits. You cannot get the same benefit from a pill or supplement, no matter what the salesperson tells you!
4. Choose whole grains. A high fiber intake may reduce breast cancer by reducing estrogen levels. Choose brown rice and whole wheat breads, cereals, tortillas and pasta. Limit biscuits, white bread products and packaged rice/pasta mixtures.
5. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week. Salmon is one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids (canned salmon works well too!). Bake, broil, pan fry in olive oil or grill it.
6. Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 1 a day. Alcohol is the one of the largest dietary risk factors because it increases estrogen levels. If you do choose to have a drink, red wine or dark beer are better choices due to their phytochemical content. One drink serving is:
Beer – 12 oz (one bottle)
Wine – 5 oz (a very small glass)
Liquor – 1oz (one shot glass)
7. Keep a healthy weight. Studies show that mid-life weight gain contributes significantly to the risk of breast cancer.
8. Exercise! Aim for at least 45 minutes of activity at least 4 days a week. Schedule it and make it part of your weekly routine.
9. Don’t smoke: If you are a smoker, quit.
10. Breast feed your babies: It reduces your risk of ever getting breast cancer and reduces your babies’ risk of ever developing obesity, diabetes or cancer.
It’s Your Life. It’s Your Health. Make That Change!