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Fight Breast Cancer with Healthy Habits
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, impacting over one and a half million women each year. There are currently more than three million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone. Unfortunately, a “cancer-proof” diet doesn’t exist, but there are many lifestyle factors that can help lower your overall risk.
Eat a plant-centered diet
Based on the best available research, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating mostly plant-based foods. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and non-starchy vegetables every day. You should also include whole grains and beans or lentils with each meal. A great way to keep your meals balanced is to follow the healthy eating plate.
Physical activity has been shown to help reduce breast cancer risk. Regular exercise tends to lower circulating estrogen levels and can help manage your weight. Exercise can also improve endurance, muscle strength, aerobic fitness, flexibility, mood, and overall quality of life. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, aerobic physical activity each week.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight, especially after menopause, can increase breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends staying at a healthy weight throughout your life by balancing your food intake with physical activity. Being mindful of portion sizes, choosing healthy snacks, and limiting processed foods can help you avoid excessive weight gain. Replace fried foods, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water to help with weight control.
Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many cancer types, including breast cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Women who have two to five drinks daily have a risk one and a half times higher than women who don’t drink alcohol. While less is best, women should consume no more than one alcoholic drink per day. One alcoholic drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
These healthy habits will help lower your risk for breast cancer and many other chronic diseases. Our team at the Lifestyle Medicine Center provides support and encouragement to help you attain and maintain your personal wellness goals for disease prevention.
Katie Lester, MS, RD, LDN, CIC
Katie Lester is a clinical dietitian at Lifespan’s Women’s Medicine Collaborative, where she practices as part of the Lifestyle Medicine Center team. Katie is also a facilitator for several wellness programs offered through the center. She has special interests in women’s health, oncology, and plant-based nutrition.