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How Nutrition Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Although developing breast cancer depends on quite a few factors such as genetics and environment, lifestyle choices can also play a critical role in prevention. For example, research links smoking, estrogen exposure, heavy drinking, and certain dietary habits that include large amounts of processed foods to an increased risk of breast cancer.

In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at how lifestyle choices, specifically nutrition, can help your loved one achieve optimal health and lower their risk for breast cancer.

A Healthy Weight

Although this doesn’t necessarily classify as a nutrition tip, eating a healthy and nutrient-dense diet may help seniors lower their risk for breast cancer. According to Stanford Medicine, being overweight is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and any weight gain beyond the age of 18, even a 10% weight gain, can strongly increase the chances of breast cancer as well as a cancer recurrence.

Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight requires more than a well-balanced diet. Consistent exercise — four or more hours per week — may help decrease hormone levels, thus lowering your loved one’s breast cancer risk.

Going Plant-Based

It’s not a mystery that vegetables are good for us. They’re rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals (compounds that are produced by plants), which have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. By incorporating more plant-based options like beans and soy, and moving away from animal-based proteins like red meat, you can avoid unhealthy fats and processed meat (curing, smoking, salting, fermenting, etc. to improve preservation or enhance flavor).

Experts may not know a safe level of consumption for either red or processed meats, but in the absence of that information, the American Cancer Society recommends choosing lean proteins like fish and poultry. Processed meat products should be consumed sparingly, if at all.

Consider incorporating more of the following into your diet:

  • Leafy green vegetables, like kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens and chard. These greens are special because they contain carotenoid antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Higher blood levels of these antioxidants are associated with reduced breast cancer risk.

  • The antioxidants found in berries, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, have been shown to protect against cellular damage as well as the development and spread of cancer cells. Citrus fruits also have similar properties.

  • Whole grains… need we say more? Part of a well-balanced diet, whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and rye are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

  • If you’re looking for a healthier beverage, look no further than green tea. Its anticancer properties come from catechins, a flavonoid. Aim for 1-4 cups daily.

Avoid Sugar and Alcohol

It’s best to limit or avoid both of these. As far as sugar is concerned, a large intake of high-calorie sweeteners adds more calories, spikes insulin levels, and encourages weight gain (which increases the risk for breast cancer).

According to the American Cancer Society, alcohol use is the third most important preventable risk factor for cancer, after tobacco use and excess body weight. Alcohol use accounts for about 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Breast Cancer Prevention and Presidio Home Care

Whether it’s shopping for ingredients, cooking up healthier fare, or reminding them to exercise, our caring and highly trained Home Care Aides are ready to help. Our dedicated team members can assist you or your loved one plan and implement a diet that’s not only tasty but also packed with the necessary nutrients and cancer-fighting properties to keep breast cancer at bay. Contact our office today to learn more.

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