Fat cells produce estrogen; high levels of this hormone are believed to cause breast cancer. Working out can shrink fat cells and reduce the amount of estrogen that is produced by the body.
Even if you’ve been inactive most of your life, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by becoming active now! Health Canada recommends thirty to sixty minutes of moderate physical activity at least four days a week. So go for a run, a walk, or a bike ride. Any kind of cardio will do, as long as you are consistent with the frequency and duration of your workouts.
2. Eat healthy
Evidence shows that eating a balanced, lower-fat diet can reduce the risk of cancer. Choose lower-fat dairy products and leaner meats. Eat more whole grain products (breads and cereals); certain fibres have been shown to block estrogen’s ability to stimulate cell growth. Eat five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables—they are filled with cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
3. Drink green tea
Spanish and British scientists have discovered that EGCG, an antioxidant found in green tea, can prevent cancer cells from growing. The exact recommended green tea intake has yet to be determined, but it appears that a cup a day may be sufficiently beneficial.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Extra pounds equal higher levels of estrogen. Combine exercise with a balanced, low-fat diet to maintain a healthy weight for your height. Calculate your body-mass index using divine.ca’s BMI calculator to help determine your ideal weight.
5. Quit smoking
Although the effects of cigarette smoking are not fully understood and more research is needed, Health Canada states that there may be an association between breast cancer and tobacco smoking or breathing second-hand smoke.
Breastfeeding appears to offer some women protection against breast cancer. If you are a new mother, consider breastfeeding your baby. For your baby’s health, Health Canada recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life. For your health, 15 (cumulative) months of breast feeding in your lifetime can offer significant protection against breast cancer.
7. Drink less alcohol
Evidence suggests that women who drink alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer. The more alcohol a woman drinks, the higher her risk. Keep the boozing to a minimum and limit your intake to one alcoholic drink a day.
8. Sleep more
Not getting enough sleep can lead to excessive estrogen production, which has been linked to breast cancer. Try getting at least eight hours of sleep a night.
9. Increase your folic acid and vitamin B6 intake
Folic acid and vitamin B6 are important parts of our diets: they help make and repair DNA, and damaged DNA has been linked to cancer. A research from the Harvard School of Public Health has also found that a diet high in these nutrients can protect women against the increased risk of breast cancer caused by alcohol. Since alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to use folic acid, the extra folic acid seems to be most protective in women who drink.
Eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and citrus fruits for folic acid, and meat, poultry, fish, potatoes, bananas and beans for vitamin B6. Of course, vitamin supplements can also supply these cancer fighting nutrients.