Taking place annually throughout the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a global initiative that aims to raise awareness about the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer globally, accounting for 1.7 million new diagnoses in 2012, a 20% increase in 2008 figures. While breast cancer incidence is higher in high-income countries, in the last few years we have seen the fastest rise in low- and middle-income countries. As people across the globe sacrifice their healthy traditional diets and lifestyles for more westernized and processed foods, cancer incidence, including breast cancer incidence is rising.
Yet we have the tools to take action to dramatically reduce breast cancer risks, and as a result the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) amongst others has called for urgent global action to tackle this rapidly rising burden.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, about 38% of all breast cancer diagnosis can be prevented yearly by staying lean, eating smarter and moving more.
Smart tips for breast cancer prevention:
- Try to reach and maintain a healthy weight for your height. If this is difficult focus on avoiding gaining extra weight. Excess body fat results in higher estrogen levels, one of the main factors associated with an increased risk of hormone-related breast cancer.
- Have a great variety of colorful vegetables in your diet. Research shows that the larger the diversity of protective phytonutrients, the higher the protection, even for women who carry a genetic predisposition.
- Avoid sugary snacks and desserts and keep your fruit intake to about 3 portions of fruit per day. High sugar intake is linked to increased weight, increased inflammation levels and a compromised immune system.
- Avoid exposure to plastics by avoiding serving hot food and drinks in plastic containers. Avoid food in cans like tuna, soups, fruit, as the inside lining of the tins is made of plastic, which has been proven to leak in the food.
- Avoid alcohol or have alcohol in moderation. Alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
- Have green tea often and if possible daily. Green tea has been shown to protect our DNA against damage.
- Include medicinal mushrooms in your diet such as maitake, shitake, oyster and Portobello mushrooms.
- Avoid processed foods rich in industrially-produced fats like cakes, biscuits, crackers, chocolate bars etc.
- Exercise often. Do activities that you enjoy.
- Try to create a positive state of mind, to express your feelings and thoughts, to be surrounded by positive and supportive people, to find time for you and for your relaxation, and to manage the stresses of life in a way that does not burn you out. A healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand!