October has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Everywhere you look, pink is the color you will be sure to find.
This months’ blog is dedicated to anyone who has personally been affected or knows someone with breast cancer.
It seems every day we hear about someone else that was diagnosed. Has breast cancer really become more prevalent? Or has medical technology advanced so much that we can pick up a ‘speck’ of something with the earliest of screening? I believe the answer is a little of both.
According to The National Foundation of Cancer Research, today, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men.
While we can never 100% prevent cancer. Let’s look at the 5 scientifically proven ways to REDUCE the chances of developing breast cancer in ones’ lifetime.
Maintain healthy body weight. Excess fat converts into estrogen. High estrogen levels in the body leads to mutation of cells which can eventually lead to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/week. This includes aerobic as well as strength. Just another reason to get moving.
Limit alcohol. In its Report on Carcinogens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known carcinogen. “Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can weaken the immune system, which is important for preventing and controlling cancer,” says Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at UPMC. The ethanol in alcohol breaks down to a toxic chemical that can damage DNA. Alcohol may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients that may decrease cancer risk; and it increases estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals could also enter alcoholic beverages during the fermentation process. Moderate alcohol, particularly red wine, may have anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to a larger preventative goal,” Dr. Francis says. Women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer. You don’t have to give up your occasional cocktail just yet. Just be mindful of the amount consumed.
Breastfeeding. Research proves mothers who choose to nurse lower their overall risk. Breastfeeding decreases the levels of free estrogen. To those mothers who struggled with this, it is absolutely ok. There are many other things you can do to protect yourselves. If breastfeeding is an option for you, choose it. The benefits clearly outweigh the discomfort of those initial nursing days.
Limit processed foods. The many revealing documentaries have exposed many of our food industry for what it is. With our crops, livestock, and even non-living products being tainted with estrogen, it is no wonder why breast cancer is climbing the charts as the leading cancer of women. Limit your red meats. A recent study from the University of North Carolina showed that eating grilled and barbecued meat increased the risk of death among breast cancer survivors. “Dangerous chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when cooking muscle meat like beef, pork, poultry, and lamb at high temperatures over open flame or hot coals,” says Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia. “These chemical reactions cause compounds in the meat to change into potentially cancer-causing agents.”
Know where your foods and other household products are coming from. Go green while eating as local as possible.
Let go of the stress. Stress hasn’t been proven to link to cancer, but recent studies are beginning to point in that direction. “Studies over the last 30 years have identified psychosocial factors including stress, chronic depression, and lack of social support as risk factors for cancer progression,” state authors of the study at UTMD Anderson Cancer Center. Another study at Ohio State University showed that stress actually turns on cancer genes. Next time you begin to get worked up, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
The discussion of cancer prevention is just as exciting as it is daunting. Although there are many proven ways to decrease your risk, new findings suggest we may have barely scratched the surface.
While we can’t prevent everything, we sure can try!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.