Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, and it develops by a complex process that is not fully understood. Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time to take a closer look at ways you can minimize your risk of contracting this disease.
While there’s no magic bullet to prevent breast cancer, research shows you can help reduce your disease risk by taking five simple steps to lead a longer, healthier life:
Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for breast cancer. So, when you lose weight, you reduce your cancer risk. According to recent research, exercising four or more hours a week may decrease hormone levels and help lower breast cancer risk.
Eat more colorful produce
No single food can protect you from cancer, but scientists believe that a combination of foods in a plant-based diet may help. There is evidence that anthocyanins — the compounds that give fruits and veggies intense red, purple or blue hues — may slow or prevent the growth of certain cancers.
Limit cocktails, wine and beer
Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Generally accepted limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Make half of your grains whole
Whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that play roles in cancer prevention. Try to include three to four whole grain products in your daily diet.
Trim red meat consumption
Meat is a great source of protein, but fish and poultry are the healthiest choices. Red meats have a high fat content, which promotes inflammation — a contributing factor in the development of cancer.
Remember, small daily changes matter most. So, stop counting calories or following fad diets. Just take a good, hard look at your plate, begin eating healthier and get active.
Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutrition expert and award-winning author. Her newest book is “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook.” Find Tina at www.TinaRuggiero.com.