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Breast cancer awareness and prevention…part two

15 Oct 2014 5:46 PM - Smart tips for breast cancer prevention from a naturopathic viewpoint

In part one of this series I talked about the modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for breast cancer as well as the signs and symptoms you need to be watchful for.  Thinking about that can be a bit scary so let’s focus on some of the more positive diet and lifestyle strategies as well as herbal or nutritional supplements which can be important and useful in preventing breast cancer.

Remember from part one some of the risk factors for developing breast cancer included:

  • unhealthy diet

  • carrying excess weight

  • smoking

  • being too sedentary

  • stress

  • chemical exposure

  • unsafe levels of alcohol consumption

As a naturopath, my first objective is to help you improve your diet.

If necessary, we may need to look at your lifestyle to ensure you are getting enough movement in your day and address the things that may be causing stress. These might be external factors or they could be other illnesses or health problems. And if we need to address weight, chemical exposure or smoking we’ll do that too.


It’s the three aspects of diet, exercise and stress management which form the solid base upon which herbal or nutritional supplements may be added if warranted.


Dietary tips for preventing breast cancer

It is part of my naturopathic philosophy that no one diet fits all!  However, there are some worthwhile things to consider:

  • increasing fibre (from fruit, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains) can help to reduce circulating oestrogen levels (important for reducing risk of oestrogen-dependant cancers).  Here is some more info on sources of fibre

  • cutting back on fat as a source of kilojoules has also been shown to reduce oestrogen levels

  • eating organic meat and fruit and vegetable can help reduce pesticide and chemical exposure

  • cutting back on refined carbohydrates and processed foods (things like biscuits, cakes, sugary drinks, pre-prepared foods etc (start by reducing foods that come in packets!)

  • incorporate whole (non GMO) soy foods into your diet

 

Alcohol and breast cancer
  • women who drink more than 3 standard drinks a day increase their risk of breast cancer by the same amount as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes per day or taking HRT

  • If you do enjoy a drink, keep it to a minimum and make sure you increase your fruit and vegetables (especially the leafy greens)

  • a daily multivitamin has also been shown to help offset the risk of drinking alcohol

 

Exercise and breast cancer

There is little doubt that exercise is one of THE BEST things you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk. 

Aim for 30 minutes at least 5 times per week at a moderate intensity (a little bit breathless) or greater.  Just as important, if not more so, is reducing the amount of time you are sedentary so all activity is helpful. Here are some suggestions if you sit for long periods of time.

 

Stress and breast cancer

I have talked about the negative effects of stress in an earlier blog along with tips to reduce your stress chemicals. It’s these chemicals that are thought to disrupt our biochemistry with a subsequent increased risk of developing many illnesses including breast cancer.

And don’t overlook insufficient sleep as a cause of stress on the body. In one large study women who consistently slept less than 6 hours each day were more likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who slept 7 hours per day.

If you think sleep might be an issue for you, you might like to read signs that you need more sleep.

 

Putting it all together

Modifying diet and lifestyle, improving digestion and reducing toxicity can all help to move you towards a healthy weight which in turn, helps to reduce inflammation and oestrogen levels and regulate hormones like insulin and cortisol.

Start with the basics and if you are struggling, I can help. Naturopathy is based on the pillars of good diet and lifestyle. Using herbs and nutrients to provide additional support can help with losing weight, improving sleep and stress levels, helping quit smoking and improving digestion and detoxification.

Breast cancer is a complex disease and there are a whole bunch of factors which influence your risk of developing it as well as surviving it.  If you should be so unlucky as to develop breast cancer make sure you use all the people and resources at your disposal to maximise your chances of long term survival.

 

In good health

 

 

Kaye Wright
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

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