by Matthew McCurdy
Some breast cancer risk factors are out of our control, such as age, female gender and genetic mutations. However, we can reduce the risk of breast cancer by following a few simple guidelines.
Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol is a carcinogen. The risk of breast cancer increases proportionally with increased alcohol intake (Allen, 2009). The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends one drink a day or less. For breast cancer survivors, the recommendation is one drink a week or less.
Be physically active. Physical activity decreases the risk of breast cancer, as well as many other cancers and chronic diseases. It also improves mood, sleep and energy.
Maintain a healthy weight. Ideal body mass index is 18 to 25.
Eat a whole food, plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet. Clinical studies do not support reliance on single ingredient extracts or supplements. Instead, eat a wide variety of foods since their varied phytochemicals act synergistically to prevent disease. Specific foods for reducing breast cancer risk include whole soy (soy blocks estrogen receptors in the breast), omega-3 fats, cruciferous vegetables, onion, garlic, mushrooms, turmeric and other spices, teas and berries.
Avoid night shift work. Regular, restful sleep is important to the body’s natural healing ability.
Consider alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. In light of the confusion and controversy surrounding hormone replacement therapy, consider alternative management options for menopausal symptoms, such as traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, exercise, yoga, meditation, clinical hypnosis, nutritional changes and more.
As we learn more about the causes of breast cancer, recommendations may be tailored to a microbiome, genetic/metabolomic profile and exposures to endocrine disruptors and other toxicants. Until then, eat well, sleep well and stay active.
Dr. Matthew McCurdy is a holistic cancer doctor and radiation oncologist at the Austin Cancer Center and treats cancer patients throughout the greater Austin area. For more information, visit AustinCancerCenters.com.