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Get the Skinny: What to eat to reduce your risk of breast cancer

One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life.  It’s a frightening statistic, but there are a few key lifestyle modifications that can shift the odds in our favor.  Today we’re Getting the Skinny on five top strategies that have been shown to help reduce our risk of breast cancer.

Many risk factors are out of our control, like age, genes, gender, and family history, but you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diets, along with these five strategies:

 

Cut back on the cocktails

  • Alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and the more you drink, the higher your risk.
  • Alcohol raises estrogen levels (one of the risk factors for breast cancer), and byproducts of alcohol metabolism may alter DNA in ways that can lead to cancer.
  • Just one drink/day may raise risk by 10%, and there can be as much as a 15% increase in risk with 3-6 drinks/week.
  • Women who have at least 2 drinks/day have been shown to have 51% higher risk of breast cancer.

 

Be choosy with carbs

  • Women with a high-glycemic diet have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • High glycemic foods include white breads, rice, pasta, sugary sweets and soft drinks, as well as ‘perceived as healthy’ foods like most pretzels, graham crackers, and pita chips.
  • Check labels, looking for little or no added sugars or white flour (including ‘wheat’ flour).

 

Experiment with flaxseed

  • They’re one of the top food sources of lignans, compounds that may have anti-cancer properties.
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed into oatmeal, plain low-fat Greek yogurt, or blend it into a smoothie.

 

Boost folate

  • A low intake of folate is linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.
  • Folate-rich foods include red beans, black beans, lentils, & spinach, or supplement 400-800 mcg folic acid

 

Be smart with soy

  • Soy contains phytoestrogens, compounds that have an estrogen-like effect.
  • Some studies have shown that phytoestrogens may increase breast cancer cell growth, but many studies in Asian women suggest that soy may lower the risk of breast cancer.
  • The American Institute of Cancer Research says that it’s safe to consume up to 2-3 servings per day of whole soy foods (e.g., soymilk, tofu), but that as a precaution, women receiving anti-estrogen treatments (e.g. tamoxifen) should minimize intake of soy foods and avoid highly concentrated soy supplements like soy protein powders.

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