Dr Michelle Harvie, a research dietician and author has created an easy 10-point plan to help you reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Have a breast screening
One in every 29 women in South Africa are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and research shows that this occurs most frequently in women over age 50.
What to do: Schedule an annual mammogram if you’re over 40 and have a history of breast cancer in your family.
Wholegrains can help control levels are cancer-promoting hormones in the body, and will boost your intake of cancer-beating nutrients like selenium and vitamin E.
What to do: Choose wholewheat or multigrain bread, plus high fibre and bran-based cereals, as well as brown pasta and rice.
Avoid saturated or trans fats
Not all fats are bad for us. Oily fish, avocado and rapeseed, walnut and olive oils are part of a healthy anti-cancer diet.
What to do: Cut down on fatty meats, cheeses, cream, butter, cakes, biscuits, pastry, chips and certain margarines.
Cut back on booze
If you have a small drink (125ml wine) every day of the week, your risk is around 10% higher than someone who doesn’t drink. If you drank half a bottle of wine at night, that would raise your risk of developing breast cancer by 35%. Even moderate drinking raises chances of breast cancer.
What to do: Avoid drinking every night. Make alcohol a treat rather than a habit.
Be HRT Savvy
Most breast cancers are linked to oestrogen. Taking combined hormone replacement therapy for more than two years can increase your risk of breast cancer. 10 years on, combined HRT can double your risk.
What to do: Try to limit the time you take HRT, and look into other ways of controlling menopausal symptoms. The good news is that the risk of breast cancer goes down within 5 years of stopping HRT.
Exercise improves the hormone balance in the body, which lowers levels of some cancer-causing hormones.
What to do: Aim to include five 35 to 40-minute exercise sessions each week.
Watch your weight
Putting on 6kg in weight in adult life increases your breast cancer risk by 60%.
What to do: Try to limit weight gain. Studies show that people who manage to lose at least 3kg to 5kg and keep it off, reduce their risk (a healthy weight is a BMI of between 19 and 25).
Go low fat
Dairy products are rich in calcium and often vitamin D, which can help protect us from cancer. Just make sure you pick low-fat.
What to do: Choose low-fat dairy products like yoghurt, low-fat or skimmed milk, and cottage cheese.
Eat a rainbow
Eating different-coloured fruit and veg is a way to ensure you take in a full range of anti-cancer nutrients. They contain plant chemicals that can act as antioxidants and have potential anti-cancer properties.
What to do: Eat a colourful mix of fruit and vegetables – and aim for five portions a day.
Be breast aware
The majority of breast cancer – outside screening programmes – is detected by women themselves. Be aware of what’s normal for you. Look for changes in the skin or nipple, or discharge or lumps.
What to do: Self-examine at least once a month when you’re bathing – visit www.cansa.org.za for more information and tips.
DISCLAIMER: You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.