Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Did you know that one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer and of those, less than 15% are due to family history? Most breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These cancers occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and lifestyle. There isn't much that can be done about family history or aging, but there are ways you can reduce breast cancer risk.
Tips to Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Here are four ways you can help protect yourself, your friends, and your family members.
1. Reduce your estrogen load
The Women’s Health Initiative Study confirmed that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases our risk of developing invasive breast cancer by 26%. There are supplements that can help alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. Natural, or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is another option that helps some women safely address hot flashes, night sweats, and the other symptoms of menopause. Estrogen mimickers in our environment, called xenoestrogens (pronounced "zeno-estrogens"), are found in plastics, pesticide- and herbicide-laden foods, cosmetics, hair dyes, bleached feminine hygiene products, some prescription drugs, dry-cleaned clothing, and nail polish. They are disrupting our estrogen balance and increasing our risk of breast cancer, yet most women do not know that common substances they use every day are increasing their risk. Avoid using these items, or reduce their use.
2. Eat to prevent cancer
A poor diet plays a contributing role in risk for breast cancer, so make sure you consume organic produce as much as possible to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens. Choose cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts, as they contain indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which are known breast-cancer inhibitors. Reduce your intake of sugar, as it suppresses the immune system. Eat organic dairy products and free-range, grass-fed meats that don’t contain xenoestrogens. Reduce the amount of animal products you eat, and choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Get enough essential fatty acids in your diet by using flaxseeds, which are high in lignans and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
3. Take the right nutrients
The following supplements have plenty of research demonstrating their benefit in reducing breast cancer, but the best thing to do is talk to a naturopathic doctor to discuss what nutrients would be the best fit for your specific needs.
- Calcium D-glucarate is a powerful detoxifier of excess estrogens from the liver and is important for both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
- Green tea extract contains polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids, shown to be protective against estrogen-dominant breast cancers.
- Curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that works to inhibit cancer formation.
- Lycopene, found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, papaya, guava and watermelon, was shown to reduce risk of breast cancer by 36% when 6.5 mg/day was taken.
- Sulforaphane, from broccoli sprout extract, has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that eliminate xenoestrogens.
4. Improve your lifestyle
Get moving and stop smoking. Exercising three times a week may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. Research also has shown that there may be a link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.
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