A healthful diet and lifestyle can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer.
That’s right. You don’t need to rely just on screening to find cancer. You can take four simple steps to make it less likely to start in the first place, or less likely to come back if you’ve already been diagnosed: Choose plant-based foods, exercise, limit alcohol, and aim for a healthy weight.
Chances are these steps will improve your health in other ways, too! You can cool inflammation in your body, reduce your risk of diabetes and heart attack, and feel better than you have in years.
Read on to learn more, or pledge now to follow the four steps this month and get the "breast-ever" e‑cookbook—free!
1. Choose Plant-Based Foods
Healthful foods from plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans) lower breast cancer risk in several ways. They help with weight loss, because they are typically low in calories and high in appetite-taming fiber. In addition, high-fiber, low-fat diets can help you gently reduce estrogen levels. In turn, lower estrogen levels can lower your risk of cancer.
Plant-based foods are packed with nutrition, and plant-based diets can reduce the risk of multiple diseases. Even so, you’ll want to ensure you get complete nutrition. To do that, include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans in your routine. And be sure to have a reliable source of vitamin B12 daily, such as a simple B12 supplement.
The healthiest meals are plant-based, low fat, and high fiber: an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, 100% whole grains like brown rice and oats, non-animal proteins such as lentils, beans, and soy.
Dr. Kristi Funk, Breast Cancer Surgeon
Fill up on vegetables
Eat more soy
Avoid processed meats
Linked to cancer
2. Exercise Regularly
Physical activity, especially vigorous exercise like running or fast cycling, lowers the risk of breast cancer. Why? Evidence suggests that exercise helps with weight loss, and it also strengthens immune defenses, which may help the body kill cancer cells that arise.
If you are sedentary now, it helps to start exercising slowly and build up gradually. Briskly walking for ten or fifteen minutes three times per week is a good beginning. You can then add five minutes to each walk until you are walking for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. When you feel ready to take it up a notch, you can add running, swimming, cycling, or other activities you find enjoyable. (Note: Please talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.)
3. Limit Alcohol
Alcohol increases breast cancer risk. This is true for all kinds of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. Even one drink a day increases risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk. Alcohol can increase estrogen levels, and it can cause DNA damage—the first step in cancer.
We're proud to be part of the Let's Beat Breast Cancer project. We encourage you to take the pledge to follow the four steps this month!
Tracey and Jon Stewart
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess body weight increases the odds of getting breast cancer after menopause. Extra weight can also make cancer more likely to advance when it arises. The reason seems to be that fat cells produce estrogens—female hormones that can help cancer cells to form and spread. Being overweight also increases your risk of other problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other kinds of cancer.
What is a healthy weight? You can see how your weight fits with a healthy range by checking your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Find out your body mass index using the Pink Lotus BMI Calculator.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can download a fact sheet with the four steps here.
Let's Beat Breast Cancer Kit
Includes breast cancer surgeon Dr. Kristi Funk's Breasts: The Owner's Manual, new PCRM Fact Sheets on how to reduce your breast cancer risk, and more!