Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer
By Gemma Hurditch
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. Maintaining a sensible weight is protective against many forms of cancer. Intermittent fasting or the 5:2 diet is a good way to lose excess weight and keep it off. Nightly fasting of 13 hours without food, or longer, also appears to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence.
Compounds found in members of the cruciferous vegetable family such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and turnips, contain anti-cancer properties which are currently under investigation for breast cancer therapy. Keep cooking times to a minimum, preferring to steam or eat them raw. Aim to eat 2-3 cups daily in addition to other fresh fruit and veg, and chew well to release the bioactive compounds.
There are links between low iodine intake, poor thyroid health and breast cancer. Japanese women who eat seaweed daily (rich in natural iodine) have lower rates of both diseases. Low iodine levels in breast tissue is associated with breast disease; it is worthwhile adding a teaspoon of seaweed or sea vegetables to your daily diet for health promotion.
Drinking alcohol is associated with increased risk of various cancers, including breast. To minimise risk, no more than 1 standard drink is advised daily. Alcohol free nights also confer benefits. Risk increases with alcohol consumption in breast cancer, so try tart cherry juice or reduce intake by mixing your tipple with soda water.
Exercise and daylight
They’re beneficial to overall health and recommended for both breast cancer survivors and as a preventative measure. Aim for 40 minutes brisk walking five days a week, with some higher intensity sessions if you can. More physically active women and those with higher levels of vitamin D, which is made by the action of sunlight on skin, have lower rates of various cancers, including that of breast, uterus and colon.
Reduce toxic load
Opt for a predominantly plant-based organic diet. Avoid processed foods, and cook from scratch. This helps reduce intake of potentially toxic residues from pesticides, additives and packaging. Look for organic personal care products with only natural ingredients.
Checking regularlyfor any lumps, bumps or irregularities in breast tissue or the nipple can alert you to any potential problems. Checking at the same time in your cycle, about 5 days after your cycle starts is usually best.
Recipe for Kale Pesto
Try this easy cruciferous vegetable recipe, making it fresh when you want to use it, in order to maximise its nutrient profile.
1.5 cups of chopped kale, stalks removed
0.5 cup of parsley
0.5 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic or more, depending on your taste!
1 handful of raw almonds
1 handful of walnuts (toasted is delicious but raw is also good)
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon of cumin powder.
Blitz everything together in a food processor to your preferred consistency
To serve: add a large dollop of kale pesto to a crunchy salad that includes shredded cabbage, raw broccoli, cauliflower florets and your other favourite greens. Or you can use it as a dip with crudités.
Naturopath Gemma Hurditch is a lecturer for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).
CNM is the UK’s leading training provider in a range of natural therapies, with colleges across the UK, Ireland, and in Finland and the USA.
Seventh Wave Supplements have been the UK's 100% natural and additive free brand of health supplements for ten years. They are passionate about helping people feel better naturally. www.seventhwaveuk.com