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Beyond Trim

Defend Yourself Against Breast Cancer

"The best defense is a good offense" describes a strategy used to gain the advantage in sporting games or in military combat. The idea is that being pro-active rather than passive will foil your opponent, hindering their ability to defeat you.

The same idea can be applied to protecting yourself from many of the chronic and life-threatening diseases we face today. Take cancer for example. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Despite the current focus on genetics, only a small number of cancers are actually “inherited”. The same holds true for the various forms of breast cancer. Only 5-10 percent of cases are due to women who have cancer promoting genes. Most breast cancers attack us because we leave our defenses wide open.

You can defend yourself against breast cancer by going on the offensive with a healthy lifestyle:

  • Weight Staying at a healthy weight, or losing weight if you need to, is one of the best defenses against breast cancer. It also helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and other health problems.

  • Alcohol A single drink per day raises breast cancer risk in women. When alcohol is digested, it is converted to the carcinogen acetaldehyde. This conversion starts in the mouth which is why alcohol consumption also contributes greatly to cancers of the mouth and esophagus.

  • Cholesterol Some large clinical studies have demonstrated a direct association between LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and breast cancer risk and an inverse association between HDL (good) cholesterol and breast cancer risk. A heart healthy diet (low in saturated fat and high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) that helps control cholesterol may also be the best diet to avoid cancer.

  • Physical Activity Physical activity may help you to maintain your weight but it’s also a great way to stimulate and support your immune system, which helps to fend off illness in general.

  • Breast feed If you are a woman of child-bearing age you should know that breast feeding your child for a minimum of six months may help to reduce your odds of developing breast cancer later in life.

  • Don’t smoke The case for smoking as a factor in increasing breast cancer risk is not as strong as for other lifestyle choices, but the evidence is mounting. And, since lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in women (breast cancer is #2), it makes sense to avoid smoking and to quit if you are a current smoker.

If you are a cancer survivor, following this advice may also help avoid a re-occurrence.