Another reason I love the Avon Walk? The event both raises money to help those currently suffering from breast cancer, and it inherently encourages men and women to take healthy steps (pun intended) towards preventing their own risk of contracting the disease.
Did you know that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer? Here are several other small steps you can take to protect yourself:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Keeping your weight consistent has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This matters not just in your youth, but throughout your entire life. An elevated body mass index (BMI), especially in midlife, has been shown to increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.
2. Exercise regularly. Moving your body provides powerful protection against breast cancer. Consistency is key- shoot for 30 minutes or more five or more days of the week. Walking is excellent exercise!
3. Reduce alcohol consumption. The Harvard Nurses’ Health study, along with many others, has deemed alcohol use the single greatest dietary risk factor for breast cancer. Consuming more than one drink per day can increase the risk by as much as 20%.
4. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables. Shoot for seven or more servings daily; the more colorful, the better. Those shown to have the strongest preventative properties include: broccoli, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, berries, and citrus fruits.
5. Focus on complex carbs. We’ve all heard that “white carbs” aren’t the best for us. While I don’t think it’s necessary to categorically dismiss an entire group of food from your diet, I do make an effort to consume more whole grains and beans/legumes. Research suggests that high-glycemic carbs like white rice, white flour, and sugar can promote cellular growth in breast tissue.
6. Love on some fat. Be choosy with your dietary fats. Maximize your intake of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and minimize consumption of trans and saturated fats. Salmon, tuna, sardines, nuts/seeds, avocados, and olive oil all contain anticancer properties.
7. Maintain a positive mental outlook. There’s no denying the positive mental and physical health benefits of self-nurturing behaviors. Spend time with your loved ones, get plenty of sleep, and do what you love!