Tips to reduce the risk of breast cancer

The following excerpt is from Sherry Torkos’ book Live Well: A Woman’s Guide to Optimum Health, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., Copyright  2007.

Breast cancer is the most feared disease that Canadian women face. One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. One in 27 will die of it. In 2006, an estimated 22,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 5,300 will die of it. While these figures are startling, the good news is that since 1993 the incidence of breast cancer has stabilized and death rates have declined steadily. With early detection, improved treatments, and knowledge of prevention, women today are doing much better in the battle against breast cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, at least 50 percent of cancers can be prevented through healthy living. Below are some lifestyle choices that can
help reduce the risk of breast cancer:

  1. Eat a diet high in fibre. Flaxseeds, oat bran, fruits, and vegetables are all great sources of fibre. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts contain cancer-fighting nutrients.
  2. Minimize your intake of saturated fat and avoid trans fats.
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight.
  4. Be physically active. Studies show that even moderate physical activity may reduce your risk by 30 to 40 percent. Spend at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week doing aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
  5. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, or cut it out altogether.
  6. Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding seems to offer protection against breast cancer, plus it’s good for the baby.
  7. Don’t smoke. Smoking and breathing second-hand smoke can increase the risk of breast cancer, along with many other health problems.
  8. Only use hormone replacement therapy if absolutely necessary and for a short period of time (less than five years).
  9. Minimize your exposure to chemicals that have been linked to increased cancer risk such as dioxins, phthalates, pesticides, and herbicides. Some of these chemicals are referred to as xenoestrogens because they have estrogen-like activity in the body. Dioxins are found most abundantly in farmed fish and in the fumes from incinerated waste. Phthalates are found in plastics, particularly when they are heated or reused, and pesticides and herbicides are concentrated in non-organic produce. For information on chemicals and disease, refer to the CHE Toxicant and Disease Database, http://database.healthandenvironment.orgLink to an external website

Good health includes good financial health.
Along with making healthy lifestyle choices, a financial plan is also important for your future. Part of that financial plan can include being prepared in case of a critical illness. This part of your plan can help you recover financially and move past an illness. Critical illness insurance is one way to help you recover without financial pressures and without tapping into savings.

More information about women’s health issues is available in Sherry Torkos’ book Live Well: A Woman’s Guide to Optimum Health, available free of charge from www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website. On the website you can also learn more about the importance of good financial health and creating a financial recovery plan should you become critically ill.

Sherry Torkos, Bsc Pharm (www.sherrytorkos.comLink to an external website) is a pharmacist, author, and certified fitness instructor. The website www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website and Sherry Torkos’ Live Well Tips are brought to you by Sun Life Financial


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