In case you missed it, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October is dedicated to highlighting this disease, which will affect one out of eight women. They say you are what you eat, but the connection between diet and breast cancer prevention is confusing to say the least.
An article over at Nutrition Data helped me sort out the topic, although there really is no clear-cut answer. The two most researched dietary links to breast cancer are low fat diets and soy products. Although cultures with high fat diets have a higher incidence of breast cancer, there have been no clear-cut conclusions from clinical trials on this subject. There are two sides of the debate on soy products. Since soy contains phytoestrogens, which act as weak estrogens in the body, it is thought to either stimulate estrogen-related cancers, like breast cancer, or to help prevent them. Once again there is no conclusive evidence either way, and most experts feel that soy products are fine in moderation.
These ambiguous conclusions don't mean that you are completely powerless in trying to prevent breast cancer. To see what you can do, just
- Being overweight is considered a primary risk factor for developing the disease, so maintaining a healthy weight is considered a means of prevention. Diets high in fruits and veggies help prevent all types of cancer, and are also low in calories. Adding at least five servings of fruits and vegetables is a win-win situation.
- Another well-documented means of preventing breast cancer is limiting the amount of alcohol you drink daily. Drinking more than one serving of alcohol a day, including red wine, increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Exercise, although it is not food related, is an important part of the breast cancer prevention lifestyle. Exercising 30 minutes a day has been shown to be highly protective against the disease.
For me the hardest healthy habit to follow is limiting myself to one glass of wine, but lately I have been really good about doing this — especially since my neighbor's gynecologist emphasized this point at her last check-up, which jump started my will power when it comes to vino. What about you? Are any of these preventative measures hard for you? Please share them in the comments section below.