How to be healthier and protect against breast cancer? [Contributed by Dr. Stephanie Valente]
Exercise and good eating are not only a one-two punch for better health. This powerful duo also lowers your risk of developing breast cancer. Or, if you are diagnosed with it, exercise and a healthy diet can increase your odds of beating the disease.
Here’s five things you can do to boost breast health:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
The relationship between obesity and breast cancer is not fully understood, but we know it’s important for women to keep a healthy weight to reduce risk.
The production of the hormone, estrogen, in women’s fat tissue after menopause is a major factor. In obese women, estrogen-sensitive breast cancer tissues are exposed to more estrogen than in women of a healthy weight. This can stimulate the growth and progression of breast cancer.
Also, a recent study found that women who are obese — with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher — tend to have more advanced disease at the time their breast cancer is diagnosed than women with a BMI below 25. These women are also at greater risk for the disease spreading and are more likely to die of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors who are obese also run a greater risk of the disease coming back.
2. Exercise 30 minutes a day, at least four to five days each week
Women who are physically active are 25 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than women who are sedentary. Research shows that regular exercise can help prevent breast cancer by boosting immune function, warding off obesity, and lowering levels of estrogen and insulin.
Along with helping you maintain your weight, exercise can also improve bone mass, which is a critical issue for breast cancer survivors who have undergone chemotherapy and endocrine therapy. These medications are tied to lower bone mineral density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Whether you’re trying to prevent breast cancer, are fighting breast cancer, or have survived breast cancer, exercise can help. Walking is the easiest type of exercise to maintain.
Read: 3 Essential Bra Tips for Women by Stickee Research Family
3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Have at least five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, watermelon and whole grains are cancer-fighting foods.
Increase omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in walnuts, fish, soybeans and pumpkin seeds. Avoid refined sugars and fats.
It is believed that good nutrition can help protect against a host of cancers, including breast cancer, and can slow or prevent the disease’s progression or recurrence.
4. Limit alcohol to one drink per day
Women who drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day — even just two drinks — are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have three or more drinks per week after being diagnosed with breast cancer run a greater risk that their breast cancer will recur.
5. Take your vitamins, especially vitamin D
Women with low levels of vitamin D may run a greater risk of developing breast cancer, and breast cancer survivors with low vitamin D levels may have a greater risk of disease recurrence. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, so women who don’t get a lot of daily sun exposure can be deficient in vitamin D.
Have your vitamin D level checked. If your levels are low, talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
Your health is in your hands
By making these five healthy habits part of your life, you not only fight breast cancer but many other cancers and diseases while enjoying more energy, lower stress levels and better moods.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the (others) author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of Stickee, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
Dr. Stephanie A. Valente is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in the treatment of breast cancer as well as benign breast disease. She is certified by the American Board of Surgery in General Surgery with fellowship training in Breast Surgical Oncology.
Dr. Valente is the Director of the Breast Surgery Fellowship program at the Cleveland Clinic and is Assistant Professor of Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests include oncoplastic breast surgery, nipple sparing mastectomy, and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).
Dr. Valente earned her medical degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her surgical residency at Akron City Hospital and her breast fellowship at the University of Southern California.
Special thanks to: Cleveland Clinic