One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer—one in eight, that’s staggering. Just imagine you and seven friends having lunch together. One of you will get the disease. Better make sure the lunch you order is good for you—think fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, little dairy, no alcohol, and moderate amounts of fat, sugar, and calories.
While there is definitely a chance that family history, genetics, environment, and bad luck play a part in the development of breast cancer, research tells us we are also in charge of our cancer destinies—case in point: A healthy lunch (and breakfast, dinner, and snacks) helps fuel good cells and stall bad ones. Here, five methods for fine-tuning your lifestyle in the spirit of breast cancer prevention.
Maintain a healthy weight. Gaining weight at any age and stage of life boosts a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, says the National Cancer Institute. Haven’t reached menopause yet? Still, you should get your weight in check so you’re ready for this time of life, because as many as 20% of cancer deaths are due to being overweight or obese.
Hormone Replacement Therapy. It slightly increases a woman’s breast cancer risk, according to the large Women’s Health Initiative. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the smallest effective HRT dose for the shortest period of time.
Exercise. Women who exercise more than six hours a week cut their risk of invasive breast cancer by 23 percent. It’s never to late to start. So lace up your athletic shoes today.
Alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol spike breast cancer risk. Taking folic acid in addition to consuming alcohol helps, but cutting down on drinking is your best bet. An equivalent of one glass of wine per day is all you should drink. Less is better, if you can manage it.
Vitamin D. Pay attention to vitamin-D-rich foods—more here—and soak up the sunshine for 15 minutes each day. If you think you might be deficient, a supplement with at least 1,000 IU of the vitamin is recommended.