Breast Cancer Prevention and Risk Factors

October is all about Halloween for the kids. But orange yields to pink for adults in October, because it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women, behind lung cancer. Prevention and early detection are the keys to this deadly disease. Today I want to focus on prevention and risk factors.

The body is composed of 50 to 70 trillion cells. It would take 1.5 million years to count them all at the rate of 1 cell per second!

The body is made up of many types of cells. These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), bladder, kidney, and several other organs.

But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Most women who have one or more breast cancer risk factor never develops the disease, while many women with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors (other than being a woman and growing older). Even when a woman with risk factors develops breast cancer, it is hard to know just how much these factors might have contributed.

Some risk factors, like a person’s age or race, can’t be changed. Others are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment. related to personal behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Some factors influence risk more than others, and your risk for breast cancer can change over time, due to lifestyle.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and the rate is rising, alarming figures show. Experts say this statistic serves as a ‘wake-up’ call, and that thousands could avoid the disease if they drank less, maintained a healthy weight and stepped up their exercise routine.

Scientists blame lifestyle habits for record high increases. Eating healthy is the key and lately the information about GMO foods is alarming. Many new studies show that there’s grave cause for concern about the health effects of consuming GMO foods because the chemicals in the pesticide sprays can cause food allergies, irritable bowels, organ damage, or cancer.

When consuming products containing the following ingredients, look for a ‘non-GMO Verified’ or ‘Organic Certified’ label. If you don’t see one, there’s a good chance it could be genetically modified: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Also high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.

Foods that should be frequently included in your diet to prevent cancer, especially breast cancer:

Broccoli sprouts: These peppery sprouts are high in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that University of Michigan scientists found may target and destroy cells that fuel tumor growth.

Pomegranate: (also referred to as arils) Well endowed with ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant that may inhibit an enzyme that plays a role in breast cancer development, according to U.S. scientists from the City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute. Pomegranates, a rich source of antioxidants, have also been linked to improved heart health. You can get the same antioxidants from pure pomegranate juice, but drink only one cup (250 mL) a day to keep sugar intake in check, or have half of a fruit.

Try this: Garnish cottage cheese, salads, oatmeal and pilafs with pomegranate seeds. Add the juice to smoothies and iced tea.

Lentils: A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 analyzed the dietary patterns of more than 3,500 Asian-American women and found that a higher intake of legumes, which include lentils and beans, was associated with lower breast cancer risk. Though often overlooked, budget-friendly lentils are brimming with folate, fiber and a host of other nutrients that may help keep breast cancer at bay.

Try this: Lentil burgers and tacos. Make hearty weeknight pasta with whole-grain penne, lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped kale and diced feta cheese.

Walnuts: Preliminary data suggests that snacking on up to two ounces (60 g) of walnuts a day could halt the development of breast cancer tumors. Researchers from West Virginia’s Marshall University School of Medicine surmise that walnuts’ omega-3s, antioxidants and phytosterols may help slow the growth of cancerous cells.

Try this: Add walnuts to brownie or muffin recipes. Or toast them in a dry skillet and add to salads, and cooked grains such as quinoa.

Blueberries: Research suggests that pterostilbene, a phytonutrient in blueberries, can halt the growth of breast cancer tumors by causing cancerous cells to self-destruct, a process called apoptosis. And frozen wild blueberries are just as antioxidant- and nutrient-packed as fresh.

Try this: Add blueberries to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt.

Dietary Folate (like spinach): Premenopausal women with the highest average intakes of dietary folates had a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2011. The B vitamin is necessary for proper cell division, and stymies changes to DNA that may lead to breast cancer.

Try this: Use spinach to brighten up quiches, scrambled eggs and even smoothies.

Eggs: Choline, an essential nutrient abundant in eggs, is associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, according to a U.S. study involving more than 3,000 women. This essential nutrient, found in the yolk, is necessary to ensure proper cell functioning. The U.S. Institute of Medicine says women should aim for 425 milligrams per day; there are 126 milligrams in a large egg. Other sources of choline include fish, poultry, pork, beef, broccoli and wheat germ.

Try this: Keep hard-boiled eggs in the office fridge and have one for an afternoon snack.

Salmon: One of the few foods to contain vitamin D in significant amounts. Researchers at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital determined that increased intakes of the “sunshine vitamin” were associated with a 24 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer. Vitamin D may prevent cells from becoming cancerous. Also, eating fresh or canned salmon provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a supercharged omega-3 fat that may kill off breast cancer cells and help stop the spread of the disease to other parts of the body.

Try this: Add canned salmon to salads or use instead of beef in burgers and meatloaf. Do not forget to get annual vitamin D levels checked to make sure that you do not need additional vitamin D.

Mushrooms: A study published in Nutrition and Cancer in 2010 found that higher mushroom intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among women who are premenopausal. Cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, among others, contain antioxidants such as L-ergothioneine that may confer cancer protection.

Try this: Add sliced mushrooms to scrambled eggs, frittatas, stews, stir-fries and your ground meat for burgers and meatloaf.

Black Cherry Juice: The same chemical compound that causes the leaves of trees such as maples and sumacs among others to turn red in the autumn is also contained in the black cherry in high amounts. That compound is anthrocyanins. The anthrocyanins are actually present all the time in the leaves of many trees. It is just masked by the green of the chlorophyll. When the chlorophyll fades in autumn, the red color of the anthrocyanins is on brilliant display.

This anthrocyanin compound has a number of amazing capabilities, among them the ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, an anti-carcinogenic agent, an antioxidant, a soporific agent, and an anti-arthritic agent. The black cherry is high in vitamin A and C and bioflavenoids. We have a great organic non-GMO concentrated black cherry juice that can be taken daily. This is a great cancer preventive along with other health benefits as well.

Breathing:

  • Deep breathing decreases H+ ion concentration by elimination of acidic CO2
  • Shallow breathing increases H+ ion concentration in the blood because of the build-up of acidic CO2.

Words have power:

  • The average person has up to 1300 words of self-talk per minute.
  • These thoughts are seeds we plant in our hearts that grow and produce.
  • Thoughts produce feelings and words.
  • Feelings and words create actions, which in turn create our reality.
  • Watch Your Words!

Be in health, take time for yourself, have an open heart, take care of your body.

From my heart to yours — Kay

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