Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN
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While there is no certain way to prevent breast cancer, it has been found that leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk and boost your odds for full recovery if you do get breast cancer. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to learn how to reduce your risk through eating right and engaging in physical activity.

While all women are vulnerable to developing breast cancer, certain women are at a higher risk. Risk factors include certain ethnicities, family history of breast cancer, menstruation before age 12, menopause after age 55, inherited gene mutations, pregnancy of first child after age 30, overweight or older age.

Don't panic! Even if you fall into a high-risk group, eating smarter can make a difference, studies suggest. There's evidence that these foods — high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients — may help protect against some cancers. Some of these foods include:

  • Cruciferous and dark, leafy green vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and kale
  • Fruits: Citrus, berries and cherries
  • Whole grains: Oats, barley, bulgur, whole-grain pastas, breads, cereals and crackers
  • Legumes: Dried beans and peas, lentils and soybeans

Because weight is closely connected with breast cancer risk, engaging in regular physical activity is another way to help protect yourself by allowing you to maintain a healthy weight. Try adding simple exercises to your work day, such as hand-delivering a message instead of calling or emailing, or going for a walk during lunch. For optimal health, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

To learn more about eating healthier to reduce your risk of breast cancer and other diseases, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist.

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