By Dr. Stefanie Trowell, ND
Ladies, we need to talk – and it’s about something we often don’t bring up until it becomes too late. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month – but let’s leave the cancer behind for a change and focus on what we can do now to keep our breasts healthy. Many women go through life paying little attention to their breast health. We spend plenty of time thinking about how to dress them up or strap them down, but rarely think about how what we do on a daily basis affects what’s inside those fancy bras. Research has shown that one third of breast cancers are preventable. Let me translate this for you – a healthier lifestyle reduces breast cancer risk. It means that up to 95% of cancer cases can be attributed to environmental and lifestyle factors. So let’s take a look at the 5 most influential changes you can make today to improve your health and reduce your breast cancer risk… starting right now!
1. Eat your veggies
There’s lots that we can talk about when it comes to diet, but I want to focus on one food group – vegetables. We should be eating vegetables at each meal to maximize our vitamins and anti-oxidant intake. Plus, they are a great source of fibre, which improves breast health by supporting a healthy weight and improving elimination of toxins with regular bowel movements. Like I said, there’s lots to talk about when food is involved, but just by increasing your vegetable consumption, you’re off to a good start!
2. Move and keep grooving.
Maintaining a healthy body weight through physical activity can be done in 30 minutes a day. Start with a walk around the neighbourhood to enjoy the fresh air and crunch of leaves underfoot – you’ll get the mood-boosting benefits of nature as well as build resiliency against cancer. Or join a dance class with friends – it doesn’t really matter what the activity is, just find one that you enjoy and get your arms and heart pumping!
Just by completing the above 2 steps, you can prevent over 33% of the 12 most common cancers – including Breast Cancer (World Cancer Research Fund, 2011) – but let’s keep going!
3. Sip wisely.
Alcohol is a cancer-causing substance (carcinogen). And while many of us who enjoy a glass of red wine consider ourselves “healthy drinkers”, the truth is – the type of alcohol isn’t that important. What matters most is how much and how often. One standard drink a day increases a woman’s relative risk of breast cancer by up to 13%. So when it comes to alcohol – less really is more!
4. Be aware of your surroundings.
Research recommends reducing exposure to environmental carcinogens and hormone disruptors – but what does this mean in real life? It means being aware of what is in the products that you use in your home, apply on your face and rub over your body – and looking for non-toxic alternatives that are free of phthalates, parabens and fragrance that affect breast health. Check out the app: Think Dirty and scan in your product bar codes to find out how ‘clean’ your soaps and shampoos are.
5. Take small steps with big support.
I wish it was as easy as saying “Just don’t do it” or “Stop” – but unfortunately, it’s not. Even scary stats like “30% of all cancer cases are due to tobacco use” or even receiving a cancer diagnosis, aren’t always enough to stimulate a change. It’s about small steps and adequate support, so when you are ready to quit smoking – know that I am here to help.
The last week of Breast Cancer Awareness month is rapidly approaching – but it’s never too late. Try one or two of these suggestions, grab some friends and start improving your breast health today!