In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you some pro-active steps that you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Center, in the 1960’s, one out of every 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, one in eight women are likely to develop this disease. Because breast cancer runs in my family, I would like to think that I do everything that I can do to prevent it. Of course I do the “active surveillance” that doctors recommend, meaning that I do self breast exams and go for periodic checks with the doctor with the hope that they don’t find anything. To me, that seems more “in-active” than “active.”
What else can we do besides wait for breast cancer NOT to happen? We can try to change the conditions in which the cancer grows in our bodies. Here are three major steps we can take to keep breast cancer from thriving in our systems.
- Decrease Sugar Intake: According to Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinical Center for Functional Medicine, the number one driver of cancer is sugar. In fact, sugar is one of the most potent toxins in our food supply. On average, Americans consumer 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour (which acts even worse than sugar in our bodies) every year. Sugar and flour both increase the release of insulin in our bodies. Because insulin is a growth hormone, having more of it in our systems makes cancer cells grow. It also creates inflammation, both of which help cancer cells thrive. Therefore, we want to have a low glycemic diet to reduce our risk of cancer. For more about the glycemic diet, check out this link from Harvard Medical School: http://bit.ly/1uKuys5 . Don’t wait to become diabetic before getting on a low-glycemic diet.
- Increase Fiber, Prebiotic and Probiotic Intake. In case you needed yet another reason to eat a high-fiber diet; a diet rich with fiber is important for your gastrointestinal tract (GI) and gut flora. Did you know that 70% of your immune system is actually in your gut? Furthermore, according to Dr. Hyman, if the microorganisms in your gut are imbalanced, you run a higher risk of cancer. Research shows that women who’ve take a lot of antibiotics in the past have an increased incidence of breast cancer because antibiotics affect the balance of gut flora. In order to balance these microorganisms, consider eating more prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods, all of which are beneficial for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. For more info click here: http://bit.ly/1MgBv6N and here: http://bit.ly/1N26S7R .
- Get Rid Of Toxins. Of course we don’t eat toxins! Or do we? Nowadays, we are surrounded by toxins: they are in plastics, pesticides, dry cleaning, and even skin care products. These toxins act like estrogens in our body, binding to the receptors that are meant for estrogen, which can stimulate the pathways that drive cancer. How to avoid toxins:
- Drink filtered water.
- Eat organic food (see www.ewg.org)
- Reduce toxic household products, including skin care products (again, see www.ewg.org for more info)
- Alcohol. There’s a reason I left this for last – it’s a tough one. I was shocked to learn from Dr. Hyman that just one glass of alcohol per day increases your risk of breast cancer by 40%! Because alcohol is a liver toxin, it affects your ability to metabolize estrogen, therefore there are higher levels of estrogen in your system if you drink alcohol. For more information regarding breast cancer and alcohol, check out this link: http://bit.ly/1m5WHEN Here’s the takeaway:
- Get rid of sugar in your diet.
- Increase the amount of fiber, pre-biotics and pro-biotics in your diet.
- Get rid of toxins in your food, water, skin care and household products by eating real food, filtered water, and using clean skincare and household products. (Refer to www.ewg.org)
- Limit alcohol to 3 glasses per week.
As I always say, just focus on one of these ideas, get it straight, and then add on another one. Don’t try to do it all in one day. What’s your first step going to be?