The great thing is, side benefits will be: weight loss, increased energy, better sleep, and just feeling better in general.
Keep a healthy weight
Research shows that women with a higher body weight may have a higher risk of breast cancer. Excess weight gained during adulthood increases the risk of breast cancer later in life, even more so after menopause.
This connection is thought to be caused by exposure to greater levels of the hormone estrogen, which is linked to the development of breast cancer. After menopause, most of the body's estrogen is produced in fat tissue, so a woman who carries more weight is exposed to more of the hormone.
Eat a more balanced diet
The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that up to a third of cancers, including breast cancer, could be prevented in adults if we increased our daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
The body uses the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables to protect against tissue damage, or oxidation, that occurs during normal metabolism. Because tissue damage is associated with increased cancer risk, some research suggests that these antioxidant nutrients may protect the body against some cancers.
Get regular physical activity
Research shows that body weight plays a role in breast cancer because fatty tissue produces hormones and growth factors that may promote cancer development. Research indicates that the level of these hormones produced by the body can be modified by physical activity.
Regular physical activity is beneficial for women of all ages, before and after menopause. It’s never too late to start: the benefits of regular physical activity exist even when you start later in life.
Aim for 30 minutes daily and it can be broken up into 10 minutes, 3 times a day. It can be any activity as long as it increases your heart rate like walking, hiking, running, going to the gym, dancing, climbing the stairs at work, whatever you love doing.
Quit smoking, or never start
Tabacco is a known carcinogen. Smoking causes disease, ill health and can cut your life short. It harms nearly every organ of the body and puts the health of non-smokers of all ages at risk. Smoking also causes several cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and other health conditions.
By quitting smoking, you reduce your risk of developing breast cancer and help to improve your overall health. Quitting smoking sounds like simple advice—but "simple" doesn't mean "easy."
In fact, research suggests that women may have a harder time quitting smoking than men do. We may be more concerned about weight gain or may be more affected by physical and emotional cues that trigger tobacco cravings. Fortunately, we do also tend to care more about our health and well-being and actively seek out ways to improve it.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes alcohol consumption as a leading risk factor for chronic disease, including cancer—and a greater risk than a high body mass index (BMI), a low intake of fruits and vegetables or being physically inactive.
- Alcohol is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
- 4% of new breast cancer cases in Canada each year may be linked to alcohol consumption.
- It’s not the type of alcohol that increases the risk of breast cancer but how much you drink and how often.
- 1 standard drink a day increases a woman’s relative risk of breast cancer by up to 13%. The higher the daily consumption of alcohol, the higher the risk for breast cancer.
- Women with a higher risk of breast cancer are advised to avoid alcohol or drink it only occasionally.
To read more information on how you can reduce your cancer risk, head over to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's website.
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN, Fitness Trainer
North Shore Nutrition