There are several things we can do to mitigate the risk of breast cancer and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) shares four steps to do just this! Here I’ll share highlights from PCRM and other leaders in the fight on breast cancer.
I bet you know or knew someone who has or had breast cancer. I have lost friends and currently know several who are battling this horrific illness. The current risk for a woman to be diagnosed with breast cancer in America during their lifetime is 1 in 8 (13%). This is not the number one killer in the U.S., heart disease (650,000~ each year), but when it comes to new cancer cases, breast cancer leads the way with an estimated 279,000 in 2020 followed by lung and prostate cancer.
I have been on the bad end of cancer in my immediate family losing my dad to prostate cancer at age 58. From a broad cancer perspective, it’s lifestyle choices that increase the risk of acquiring or promoting the growth of these chronic illnesses (heart disease, cancers, Type 2 Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, etc.) more than any other factor. It’s not our inherited predisposition genetics leading the way meaning I have a greater chance of acquiring prostate cancer by what I eat and the lifestyle choices I make vs. having the genetics from my dad.
With breast cancer, between 5 -10% of cases are genetic as cited by Dr. Kristi Funk. I will share information here about these causes and how to reduce breast cancer risk from Dr. Michael Greger via nutritionfacts.org and PCRM.
Last year, PCRM launched promotions to reduce the risk of breast cancer by taking four steps – choose plant-based foods, exercise, limit alcohol, and aim for a healthy weight. This is part of their Let’s Beat Breast Cancer – A Four Pronged Approach Campaign. Let’s use this as a framework as I’ll share aspects that stuck out to me and please use these resources to take a deeper dive.
Choose Plant-Based Foods
- Animal products (meat, dairy, eggs…) promote cancer and other chronic illnesses and this is no different for breast cancer. They contain insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1), a cancer promoting hormone.
- According to a study referenced (Adventist Health Study-2 cohort) by PCRM, they found “that women who consumed 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cow’s milk per day had a 30 percent increased chance of breast cancer. One cup per day increased the risk by 50 percent, and 2-3 cups were associated with an 80 percent increased chance of breast cancer.” The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommendation is three cups per day for adults. How is this possible? The research finally states that, “replacing dairy milk with soy milk was associated with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer.”
- There is a myth about soy and how it relates to breast cancer. The science is pretty clear and PCRM states in one case – “In a recent study, women who consumed more soy lowered their risk of breast cancer by 30%. Whole soy foods like tofu and soy milk contain protective substances called isoflavones. Eating soy is linked to lower breast cancer risk—even (especially!) for survivors.”
- Dietician Lee Crosby, also from PCRM shared the connection with meat in an interview segment titled, Meat and Breast Cancer Risk. “Women raise their chance of developing breast cancer by 13% with each three ounce serving of meat per day.” First of all, who has a three ounce serving of meat? Also consider if you include meat in breakfast, lunch and dinner at only three ounces you now increased your risk by 39%~…
- Dr. Michael Greger, in this video via nutritionfacts.org, shares the following findings on the blood in our body fighting cancer cells:
- People on a Standard American Diet (SAD) have blood that will on its own fight off cancer growth by 9 percent (our body’s own healing process)
- People on a Plant-Based Diet have blood that will on its own fight off cancer growth by 70 percent. That is eight times the power of our own body fighting off cancer cells!!!
- Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer fighting chemicals called phytochemicals..attacking growth…. eat those veggies!!! Dietician Lee Crosby state broccoli leads the way. Reference the link under resources for the most powerful fruits and veggies to fight cancer.
I know personally when I began fueling myself with plant-based foods my energy and excitement to exercise and feel great increased dramatically. “Dramatically” is an understatement…
PCRM shares the effects of both physical activity and rigorous physical activity on breast cancer risks here – go to #2. Exercising helps build our immune system and helps with weight loss or maintaining healthy weights. It’s amazing how connected these steps are and how they can prevent other issues from arising as well.
As PCRM states, “Alcohol increases breast cancer risk. This is true for all kinds of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. Even one drink a day increases risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk. Alcohol can increase estrogen levels, and it can cause DNA damage—the first step in cancer.”
Maintain a Healthy Weight
In the forth part, PCRM shares what a healthy weight is and the tool to measure (click here and scroll to #4). They state – “You can see how your weight fits with a healthy range by checking your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Find out your body mass index using the Dr. Kristi Funk’s Pink Lotus BMI Calculator.
They also explain (click here and scroll to #4) that, “Excess body weight increases the odds of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study, heavier women (BMI above 30 kg/m2) were found to be 47 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, compared with those with a BMI under 23 kg/m2.”
Maintaining a healthy weight goes hand and hand with the first three parts as well…eat the right foods and exercise can go a long way in maintaining a healthy weight. I had a 30.4 BMI (6′ 0″ and 224 pounds) before I changed my nutrition, began exercising and went from obese to a normal weight range pretty quickly. The best part though was feeling 20 years younger!
Summing it up
Let’s Beat Breast Cancer! If we educate ourselves on the route causes to these chronic illnesses and make healthy informed decisions we can knock these out! I hope this can benefit you or a loved one in some way.
– Add Health to Your Life
Resources – references I’ve found helpful in my education of breast cancer and ways to combat:
- PCRM Exam Room Podcast
- Nutritionfacts.org – Dr. Michael Greger
- Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most?
- Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?
- Eggs and Breast Cancer
- Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells
- Fiber vs. Breast Cancer
- The Effects of Hormones in Dairy Milk on Cancer
- Flaxseeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Clinical Evidence
- Breast Cancer Survival, Butterfat, and Chicken
- Need some help eating more or all Plant-Based?
- 21-DAY VEGAN KICKSTART via PCRM (it’s free!!!)
- The Happy Pear YouTube Channel – short and easy video recipes and these twins are ENTERTAINING!
- Email The Healthy Giraffe at firstname.lastname@example.org – he loves to discuss transitions, the “whys”, ideas, recipes, and more…
- And come join me and friends for a run, bike, yoga session, and more…group dynamics help in so many ways living a healthy lifestyle…