October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sports teams are wearing pink, survivors are telling their stories, and pink ribbons are everywhere. Women battling the disease and people who care for them are educating others about the importance of early detection. People who may never have been personally touched by breast cancer are showing their support by volunteering, raising funds for research and getting involved in other ways. It is a world of PINK! And that’s a good thing.
But……sometimes it feels like we spend so much time talking about breast cancer we forget to talk about our general health. Breasts are important, but so is the rest! There are things you can do to both decrease your risk of breast cancer and improve your health overall:
- Get moving! You don’t have to run marathons. Even moderate walking 30 min, 4-5 days a week is beneficial. Adding resistance or weight training is ideal. Life is busy, but if you look you will find ways to fit exercise into your daily routine. You’ll be decreasing cancer risk and preventing osteoporosis. Plus, inactive women have more heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression than active woman.
Maintain a healthy weight. It can make a big difference - especially avoiding weight gain after menopause. Keeping your body mass index (BMI) <25 is ideal. (Click here for a tool to help calculate your BMI). Gaining even 20lbs during the course of adulthood has been shown to increase risk of breast cancer for some women.
- Eat a healthy diet that is high in: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and low in: sugars, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Your breasts will benefit, and your waistline, your heart and your immune system will thank you too.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. No more than 7 alcoholic beverages per week is probably OK when it comes to breast cancer risk, but less may be better. Red wine may be the most heart healthy choice.
Avoid hormone replacement if you can. If you need to take it, keep the dose as low as possible and take it for as short a time as you can. There are other alternatives available to treat menopausal symptoms. Your doctor or even one of our Swedish-affiliated naturopaths can help you choose what is right for you.
So continue to join forces with the pink community this month and as you do, don’t forget about breast cancer prevention, which starts by taking charge of your overall health. Because as it turns out, what is good for us in general is also good for our breasts.