October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is good to know that treatments for breast cancers are improving all of the time.

Women sometime feel powerless in relation to breast cancer, particularly in cases where there is a genetic component.  However, although there may be a history in your family, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop breast cancer.  In addition, there are different types of breast cancer, some are hormone related and some aren’t.

This brings us to the area of epigenetics.  Epigenetics says that the genetic tendency may not be enough to develop an illness.  It needs a switch and that switch can be environmental – lifestyle, stress, alcohol, smoking, diet, obesity and other factors.

In order to reduce your risk of breast cancer and indeed, risk of other cancers here are eight things you can do:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight: Adipose tissue is now recognised as a major endocrine organ. Amongst other hormones, it excretes oestrogen.  High levels of oestrogen have been shown to increase breast cancer risk[1].
  2. Remove or reduce alcohol intake: While one small glass of wine may be good for the heart, 15 to 28 units a week increased the risk of lung and colorectal cancer in men and for women there was a linear relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk[2].
  3. Increase intake of cruciferous vegetables (provided there is no history of goitre or low thyroid). This includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohl rabi.  Cruciferous vegetables support the liver and help excrete excess hormones.
  4. Take up moderate exercise: Exercise has also been shown to help reduce risk.  Perhaps by reducing BMI, helping with stress and possibly contributing to an overall healthier lifestyle.  It is important to find a type of exercise you enjoy, otherwise you won’t stick at it.  Whether it is running, dancing, swimming, walking, cycling or anything else, you should ideally exercise for 40 minutes every day.
  5. Reduce sugary foods and fats: This will help to maintain a healthy weight and also reduce inflammation in the body.
  6. Reduce red meat consumption: Commonly associated with rectal and other cancers, a recent paper has found a link with pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer and red meat consumption[3].  It doesn’t mean you have to give up red meat, just reduce and have everything in moderation.
  7. Increase fibre intake: Fibre helps elimination of toxins and excess hormones.
  8. Reduce prolonged stress: While we all need some stress, prolonged stress increases inflammation, weakens the immune system and overall can contribute to changes in the body.

For more information or any analysis of your nutritional status, contact us at info@freshperceptions.com or see www.freshperceptions.com

[1] Travis and Key, Oestrogen and Breast Cancer Risk, Breast Cancer Res. 2003; 5(5): 239–247.Published online 2003 Jul 28. doi:  10.1186/bcr628.

[2] Betts et al, Alcohol consumption and risk of common cancers: evidence from a cohort of adults from the UK. Journal of Public Health (Oxford) 2017 Sep 11:1-9. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdx123.

[3] Diallo et al, Red and processed meat intake and cancer risk: Results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort study, International Journal of Cancer, 2017 Sep 15. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31046.

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