Breast cancer happens when cells begin to grow abnormally in breast tissue. You may be surprised to learn this cancer affects both men and women, but largely women. Approximately 200,000 American women are affected by this disease every year. Knowing your risk factors for is the key to prevention! While many risk factors are modifiable, meaning you can change them, others unfortunately aren’t. Here are some of the risk factors for breast cancer:
4 Modifiable Risk Factors
- What You Eat. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and legumes regularly keeps your body nourished and reduces your risk.
- How You Move. Physical activity is an important part of healthy living. Women who exercise regularly can decrease their risk of breast cancer.
- How You Manage Your Weight. Women who weight cycle to achieve the “thin ideal” increase their chances of health complications. Giving up dieting and restrictive eating and learning to eat to nourish your here-and-now body with wholesome foods will more positively impact your health than staying on the diet roller coaster.
- What Your Habits Are. Drinking alcohol and smoking put you at a higher risk for breast cancer. Minimizing alcohol consumption and not smoking are both preventive measures.
5 Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
- Age. The highest rates of breast cancer are diagnosed after age 70.
- Family History. Those with a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer are twice as likely to be diagnosed.
- Genes. Women with the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 have a 60% lifetime chance of getting the disease.
- Menstruation. Women who began to have periods early or who hit menopause late are at higher risk due to more menstrual periods. Estrogen and progesterone cycle during menstruation causing breast cells to multiply.
- Giving Birth. Women who gave birth to less than two kids or who gave birth after age 30 are at higher risk. Pregnancies earlier in life may be protective by making the breast cells specialize to prepare for future reproduction and breastfeeding.
Nutrition and Breast Cancer
As mentioned above, one of the modifiable risk factors for breast cancer is what you eat! Focusing on whole plant foods is the foundation of a healthy pattern of eating that can reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. This eating pattern includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Keep reading for examples of these foods!
Fruits: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, bananas, grapes
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables: Spinach, swiss chard, endives, beet greens
Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, turnip, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, watercress, collards, kale
Other Vegetables: Celery, parsley, garlic, onion, shallots, leek, eggplant, pumpkin, squash
Whole Grains: Wheat, rye, oats, corn, bulgur, barley
Legumes: Soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lima beans, peanut, kidney beans, black beans, lentils
Consuming a variety of these foods each day makes for delicious meals and a healthy body. Experiment with some of these foods and different flavors; you’re sure to find your favorite combinations.