Take steps to stave off breast cancer
WILLISTON — The risk of breast cancer in women is increased by several factors that cannot be easily changed:
• Having your first period before age 12.
• Not having children or having your first child after age 30.
• Late age at menopause.
• Family history of breast cancer.
Other well-known risk factors include the use of menopausal hormone therapy and exposure of the breasts to radiation, especially at a young age. Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. Alcohol also increases risk of breast cancer. Even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increase in risk.
Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk. A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products also has been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer in some studies. At this time, the best advice about diet and activity to possibly reduce the risk of breast cancer is to:
• Get regular, intentional physical activity.
• Reduce excessive lifetime weight gain by limiting your calories and getting regular physical activity.
• Avoid or limit your alcohol intake.
To improve your diet and help manage your weight, Colleen Doyle, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society, suggests:
• Watching your portion sizes, particularly of foods and beverages high in calories and/or sugar.
• Using a salad plate instead of your dinner plate to help control your portions.
• Cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages, the largest single source of added sugar in the diet.
• Including colorful vegetables and/or fruits in each meal and snack.
• Eating more whole grains — whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal — instead of refined grains like white bread and pasta.
• Choosing fish, poultry and beans in place of red and processed meats.
Why are these recommendations so important? Because right now, 63 percent of adults in this country are overweight, including 27 percent who are obese; 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese; and our poor diets (and physically inactive lifestyles) contribute to 4 out of the 7 leading causes of death in this country, including cancer.
We’re talking about saving lives here. As a matter of fact, Doyle said, if you don’t smoke, watching your weight, eating well and being active are the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. And eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and less sugar, red and processed meats is a huge step in the right direction.
Find healthy and great-tasting recipes at www.cancer.org and get moving at a 3-mile to 5-mile community Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk near you this month. For more information, visit www. MakingStridesWalk.org.