Let’s face it. Breast cancer is a diagnosis no body wants to hear. As of now, there is no current cure for breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Celebrate the month of October by giving yourself and loved ones the gift of health. Learn about lifestyle adaptations to help reduce your risk.

Breast Cancer Quick Facts 

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. (1)
  • A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. (1)
  • For women in the U.S. breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. (1)

Breast Cancer Risk Factors 

  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. (1)
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). (1)
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Know Your Body to Detect Breast Cancer Early

  • Conduct monthly self breast exams. According to John Hopkins Medical Center, 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. Familiarizing yourself how your breasts look and feel can help you catch breast cancer early (2)
    • Perform self exams in the shower, in front of a mirror, or lying down (2)
  • Schedule a mammography screening regularly because they can detect tumors before they can be physically felt (2)
  • Change in look, feel of the nipple, and/or nipple discharge (3)
  • Follow up with your health care professional

Dietitian Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

  • Try your best to keep at a normal weight. This is easier said than done especially for women going through menopause or after menopause. Eating healthy and watching portion size is key.
  • Fruits and vegetables have natural antioxidants that fend off cancer causing free radicals. The more fresh fruits and vegetables the better! Aim for 5 servings or more per day.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains instead of refined grains. Good sources are: oats, whole grain crackers, pasta, breads, and cereals
  • Avoid processed foods. Processed foods have added chemicals, preservatives, and sometimes trans fat. These foods have minimal nutritional value and often times empty calories contributing to weight gain.
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods are good sources: flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and hemp seeds.
  • Opt in for meatless meals. Go vegetarian for some meals and get your protein from beans, tofu, soy, or quinoa. Recent research shows that a plant based diet can reduce inflammation and prevent chronic disease (including cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and more!)
  • Stay physically active. There is a strong link between physical activity, body weight, and cancer risk. Regular exercise can help you stay at a normal body weight and feeling great! It’s recommended to get at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday.

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References:

(1) Breastcancer.org. U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics. Revised September 30, 2016. Accessed October 11, 2016.

(2) National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. About Breast Cancer: Breast Self-Exam.  http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam. Accessed October 11, 2016.

(3) Susan G. Koman. Facts and Statistics: Warning Signs of Breast Cancer.  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/WarningSigns.html. Accessed October 11, 2016.