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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we continue to emphasize the importance of prevention and education on ways to lower your risk. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that at least 20 to 65 percent of breast cancers can possibly be prevented with a comprehensive, integrative and lifestyle medicine approach. Any disease, including breast cancer, is a result of interaction between our genes, our lifestyle and the environment. Only five to 10 percent of breast cancers are due to a strong genetic mutation such as BRCA.
So, what are the modifiable risk factors and how can you minimize your risk?
Tips to Lower Your Risk
According to studies, maintaining healthy weight can lower your risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent. If you struggle with weight, you may have high insulin levels. Not only does excess insulin promote cancer growth, but it also increases estrogen levels. Besides exercise and healthy diet, intermittent fasting may be something worth exploring, if your physician or dietitian agree.
A Mediterranean diet focused on plant-based whole foods has been associated with a 68 percent reduction of breast cancer risk. On the other hand, the typical Western diet, which is high in sugar, fat and calories and low in fiber and vegetables, is associated with a 46 percent increased risk. Make sure to eat plenty of fiber, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, watercress, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi and cabbage), mushrooms (preferably cooked), allium vegetables (onions, garlic and leeks), leafy greens, organic berries, omega 3 fatty acids from fish like wild salmon or sardines (and other lower mercury cold water fish), and regularly use anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric.
Time Restrictive Eating
Meal timing is also important. Women who do not eat after 9:30 pm have 50 percent less breast cancer risk compared to women who snack after 9:30 pm. Stretching the fasting window between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours can lower the risk of breast cancer by more than 35 percent, even for those who are at highest risk.
Staying active will help you maintain healthy weight, regulate glucose and insulin levels, and improve mitochondrial function, sleep and the immune system. It is estimated that exercising more than 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of breast cancer by 20 percent.
Avoid/Minimize Exposure to Environmental Toxicants and Estrogen Disruptors
Unfortunately, many man-made chemicals can lead to cancer by damaging our DNA or mimicking hormones such as estrogen. We are exposed to these chemicals through the air, skin (in cosmetics), food, the packaging of foods and dust to name a few. Some of the major endocrine disruptors are plasticizers like phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), flame retardants and pesticides. Try switching from plastic containers to glass as a way to reduce phthalates and BPA. To learn more, visit EWG.org.
Schedule Your Annual Mammogram
AdventHealth offers mammograms at four locations within the Kansas City area including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, AdventHealth Imaging Lenexa*, AdventHealth Women’s Imaging Overland Park* and AdventHealth Imaging Center Roeland Park.
*Hospital departments of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission
Schedule Your Visit at the Whole Health Institute
Call 913-632-3550 to schedule an appointment with one of our integrative providers to begin lowering your risk and get started on your prevention journey. Our team is located at AdventHealth South Overland Park, 7840 West 165th Street, Suite 110, Overland Park, Kansas, and is ready to care for you.
Visit WholeHealthInstituteKC.com to request an appointment and learn more about us.