Breast Cancer Prevention Plan
Author : RD.com - Subject : Health
Not all breast cancer risk factors can be avoided, but some are modifiable. For example, although you can't change the genes that you inherited from your parents, you can alter your eating habits. Here are preventive measures to consider:
Be choosy about fats. Certain types of fats seem to increase estrogen levels, which in turn raise breast cancer risk. A Swedish study has suggested that monounsaturated fats may help reduce breast cancer risk and polyunsaturated fats may increase it. Lean toward monounsaturated oils like olive and canola, and omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, sardines, and herring. Steer clear of trans fats, found in stick margarine, packaged baked goods, and snack foods (check for partially hydrogenated on the label), and the polyunsaturated fats abundant in corn, sunflower, and safflower oils.
Bring on the fiber. Fiber binds up excess estrogen and carries it away through your intestinal tract. Good sources include beans, brown rice, whole-grain breads and cereals, and many fruits and vegetables.
Eat your fruits and veggies. In particular, get enough cruciferous vegetables -- such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower -- all of which can boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
Savor soy. Isoflavones in soy foods are weak estrogen-like compounds that block the action of estrogen, which may contribute to breast cancer. Use soy flour in recipes, add tofu to soups or main dishes, eat green soybeans, or drink soy milk.
Avoid additives. When possible, buy hormone-free organic meats, poultry, and dairy foods. Be sure to wash fresh produce and, when feasible, remove peels to get rid of pesticide residue.
Get active. Studies show that women who exercise at least four hours a week reduce their breast cancer risk by 37 percent as compared with less active women. Exercise may cut estrogen production by burning calories and reducing fat.
Keep on top of it. Mammograms can detect breast cancer two to five years before you can feel a lump. If you're over 40, have a mammogram -- and a clinical breast exam -- at your doctor's office every year. Also, if you're still menstruating, be sure to do a monthly breast self-exam 7 to 10 days after the beginning of your period. If you're postmenopausal, do your self-exam on the same day each month. If every woman examined her breasts monthly and had mammograms at the recommended times, it would save some 15,000 lives in the United States each year.
Consider a SERM. Tamoxifen -- a common breast cancer treatment -- may also help prevent the disease. But many doctors believe its side effects (increased risk of endometrial cancer and blood clots) outweigh its benefits. It should be considered only for high-risk women. Researchers are now studying a newer selective estrogen receptor modulator, Evista, which may have similar benefits but fewer side effects.
Try vitamin E. In a small study at SUNY at Buffalo, participants with a family history of breast cancer had an 80 percent lower risk for developing breast cancer if their diets contained 10 or more IU per day of vitamin E. Ask your doctor or nutrition counselor about the dosage that's safe for you.
Go slow on alcohol. Too much alcohol is linked with increased risk. Limit yourself to no more than two or three drinks a week.
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