Breast cancer gave me a gift today. It arrived in my mailbox, and I think it’s pretty cool. Yes, I’m silly like that, thinking gifts can flow from something very frightening and life-threatening. Some day, I’ll write all about the upside of cancer. For now, I just want to share my nifty keychain!
Thanks to Louise Baker for offering to write a guest post, and for doing such a good job of pulling together some of the best tips for preventing breast cancer through healthy living. Check out what she has to say, then get busy taking her advice!
Pay mind to your diet
More and more, oncologists are realizing that a healthy diet may be one of the best protective measures you can take to prevent cancer, including breast cancer.
Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
As a general rule, the more natural the food, the better it is to eat. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant qualities, which fight cancer. Berries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods. Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get an array of vitamins and minerals. Farmers markets sell fresh fruits and vegetables that are not laden with pesticides the way they are at grocery stores. Whole grains refer to foods with minimal processing and almost always have more fiber than refined carbohydrates.
Avoid refined carbohydrates!
Refined carbohydrates tend to cause much steeper surges of insulin than whole grains. Insulin has a drastic effect on the release of other hormones in the body, such as the insulin-like growth factor and possibly even estrogen. These two hormones have been strongly linked to cases of breast cancer.
Be conscious of the different types of fat
Not all fat is created equal. Omega-3 fatty acids may have a role in preventing breast cancer when eaten in a 1:2 ratio with omega-6 fatty acids. While getting the proper ratio may seem like a simple feat, it is not. Fast food and other commonly eaten American foods have a much higher amount of omega-6 (anything made with vegetable oil is packed with omega-6 fatty acids).
Exercise, exercise, exercise!
Exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer in several ways. A study done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle gathered that women who exercise have a 22% reduced rate of breast cancer.
Lower stress levels
The mind-body connection concerning illnesses has long been researched. Findings consistently support that stress causes lowered immunity and is linked to a vast quantity of ailments, including cancer. Exercise is key to stress reduction and mental health.
Maintain a healthy weight
While changes in diet may be the best method for weight loss, exercise is the most important part of weight maintenance. According to a study performed by the National Cancer Institute, gaining weight (especially after menopause) increases the risk of breast cancer.
Avoid Certain Drugs
The following drugs have been extensively linked to breast cancer:
- Estrogen: This refers to pharmaceutical estrogen, such as the estrogen found in birth control pills.
- Alcohol: Numerous studies show that more than one drink per day can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with each additional drink.
- Tobacco: Carcinogens in cigarettes are well-noted for their cancer causing properties.
It’s now online — my Coping with Cancer magazine article. It was only in print form for a while, but now, you can actually click on a link and read it right on your computer. OK, here’s the link:
This pretty much makes me want to cry.
After cancer, I made some big changes in my life. It all started because I wanted to lose the 10 pounds treatment had forced upon me, and because I wanted to rid my body of the toxins that had been suffocating it for a year and half.
The changes (no alcohol, no sweets, no red meat, no really fatty foods, lots of fruits and veggies, lots of exercise), well, they worked. I lost 15 pounds, got in shape, scored a great resting heart rate and super cholesterol levels, and I became healthier than ever.
Yes, it was tough at times to refuse the brownies and pass on birthday cake, but I became so happy in my skin that the few seconds it would take to stuff down a sweet treat just didn’t seem worth it anymore.
My willpower lasted for three years.
Three. Whole. Years.
And then something horrible happened.
Halloween 2009 arrived.
And I fell down.
One little bite of one little Tootsie Roll from my kids’ stash, and that was it. The sugary flood gates opened, and I just couldn’t get them closed. For nearly 10 months.
If there’s something I’ve learned about my relationship with sweets over the years, it’s this: One cookie isn’t enough. One slice of pie won’t do it. One mini Halloween treat — you get the idea, right?
So, what started with one indulgence back in October led to a feast in November, a baking frenzy in December, a free-for-all in January and February (I was training for a 1/2 marathon, and I became ravenous), and, well, there are no excuses for March, April, May, June, or July. I just ate the sweets I wanted, when I wanted, and while I really didn’t like that my scale had jumped 5 pounds and my middle felt uncomfortably soft, I couldn’t find the drive to get back on track.
Until a few weeks ago, when the tides turned.
I’m not sure how, or why, but just as hard as I fell, I got back up, and now, I seem to have my footing again. I can’t promise I’ll keep it, but for the moment, the sweets are off limits. I’m tightening up the reigns on my favorite crackers and nuts and carb-y snacks, too, and I’ve never let go of my commitment to no alcohol, no red meat, lots of fruits and veggies, and regular exercise, which means the scale is back on track, my middle is firming up, and I’m feeling a whole lot better about the skin I’m in.
It’s been said that falling down is not what matters most. It’s the getting back up again that counts.
Still, I hope I don’t fall again, because, really, it’s not all that fun.
Wish Upon a Wedding has been making dreams come true since January 2010, and if you or someone you know would like a wedding or vow renewal despite a terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances, this nonprofit wish-granting organization might be able to help.
Wish Upon a Wedding offers folks (regardless of sexual orientation) a chance to enjoy a very special day, free of stress, while surrounded by family and friends.
Then submit your wish.
You can also become a Wish Granter, and you can volunteer in all sorts of other ways, too, like donating airline miles and wedding products, and of course, money, since that’s kinda what makes the world go ’round, you know?