October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you ever wondered what you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer? While certain factors can’t be changed, such as gender and genetics, making healthier diet and lifestyle choices and maintaining a healthy body weight may minimize other risk factors.
According to BreastCancer.org, poor diet is thought to be a contributing factor in 30% to 40% off all cancers. Research shows that maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a pesticide-free, nutrient-rich diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains can help boost your overall immune system.
While no one particular food can prevent or cure breast cancer, certain foods may increase overall health. BreastCancer.org suggests taking these steps to boost health and hopefully lower the risk for breast cancer.
1. Maintain a healthy body weight
Calories count, especially fat calories. Research shows that excess fat cells can increase estrogen levels, which in turn increases breast cell growth, and may increase risk of breast cancer.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based, and most dieticians agree that a plant-based diet is healthier than one rich in animal products. Tips for increasing fruit and vegetable intake include: regularly eating whole fruits; adding tomatoes to salads and sandwiches; and snacking on baby carrots, celery, grapes, and berries.
3. Vary protein sources
Some studies suggest a link between breast cancer and eating red meat, due to high levels of fat, sodium, nitrates and added hormones and antibiotics. Try alternative protein options, such as egg whites, fish, chicken, beans and lentils to give your diet a nutritious and tasty boost.
4. Snack healthy
Apples and almonds, celery and peanut butter, bananas, berries, and low-fat yogurt are delicious, unprocessed and easily accessible. When eating pre-packaged snacks, look for foods high in fiber, low in fat and sugar, and organic when possible.
5. Choose organic when possible
Chemicals and pesticides have caused growing concern in overall health, and also in risk of breast cancer. Organically grown fruits, vegetables, dairy and other food products may help eliminate exposure to harmful pesticides.