The earlier that breast cancer is detected and treatment is started, the better a woman’s chances of survival. The keys to early detection of breast cancer include frequent mammograms, clinical exams, and self-exams. The American Cancer Society recommends the following guidelines to improve early detection:
Visit your doctor for a clinical breast exam at least every three years. If you choose to perform breast self-exams, do them on a regular basis and ask your doctor to watch you do a self-exam during your checkup to be sure you’re using the correct technique.
Age 40 and over
Schedule yearly mammograms and clinical breast exams. Also be on the lookout for any changes in breast appearance, shape, and size. Promptly report all changes to your doctor. If you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, either because of family history or genetic predisposition, consult your doctor about the possibility of beginning mammography screening before the age of 40 or having more frequent clinical exams.
The National Cancer Institute also notes that there is confusion about whether consuming foods containing phytoestrogens (plant-based, hormone-like compounds) contributes to breast cancer risk. This is a special concern among those who eat soy, because soy is rich in these compounds. But according to the NCI: “Studies show people who eat large amounts of soy-based products have lower incidences of breast, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancers than the general U.S. population.”
Remember how your mom always urged you to eat your broccoli? She was on to something, according to the results of a new study! Researchers found a compound called sulforaphane in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale not only helps prevent cancer cells from forming, it can also stop existing cancerous cells right in their tracks!
Someday the development may lead to new and more effective cancer-fighting treatments. For now, go ahead and load up on these healthy greens! In addition to having anticancer properties, a one-cup serving of raw broccoli also provides 98 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 73 percent of your daily Vitamin A, 2.3 grams of fiber, and just 30 calories! How’s that for a powerful nutritional punch?
Here are some top food choices that are marvelous at multitasking: Broccoli, for instance, is not only nutrient-dense and fiber-rich, it also contains an anticancer compound called sulforaphane that inhibits cancer cells’ ability to grow, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nutrition. Good nutrition can combat this disease. Here is a list of foods that also help fight breast cancer.
- Brussels sprouts
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard, kale)
- Red grapes and red grape juice
Researchers found that women who eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet containing at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily seem to have the best protection. The typical “American diet” loaded with red meat and fats, the same foods responsible for making us fat, are the ones that increase our cancer risk! And the same foods that keep us thin are the ones that cut our risk. So, eat healthy and stay healthy!
10 Breast Cancer Risk Factors
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. women other than skin cancer—more than 200,000 American women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. The following is a list of the most common risk factors. Please note that some are not within your power to control.
1. Age. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50.
2. History of breast cancer. A woman with cancer in one breast has an increased chance of developing cancer in the other breast.
3. Family history of breast cancer. If a woman’s mother, sister, or daughter had breast cancer (especially before the age of 40), her risk of developing breast cancer is increased.
4. Menstrual history. Early onset of your menstrual period (before age 12) or late onset of menopause (after age 55) also increases your chance of developing breast cancer.
5. Childbirth history. Women who have no children or who have their first child after age 30 are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
6. Obesity. Obesity after menopause is also a risk factor.
7. Radiation exposure to chest. Women who developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at an early age may have been exposed to radiation for treatment.
8. Inactivity. Women who exercise regularly are less likely to develop cancer.
9. Alcohol consumption. Some studies have shown that the more a woman drinks, the greater her chances of developing breast cancer.
10. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). There is some evidence that taking HRT after menopause can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
If you fear you may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, consult your physician for a proper course of action.
Breast Cancer Prevention
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is urging women to understand the lifestyle and diet changes that can profoundly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. Obviously, there are risk factors that some women cannot avoid —a family history of the disease, for instance. But there are “major protective factors” women can adopt:
1. Stop smoking.
2. If you are overweight, lose the extra pounds.
3. Control the amount of alcohol you consume.
4. Control the amount of fat in your diet. Studies show that women who maintain a high-fat diet are more likely to die of breast cancer than women who maintain a low-fat diet.
5. Exercise. You can dramatically cut your risk of breast cancer—regardless of your age—by exercising regularly. Researchers found that exercising five days a week can slash your risk by 20 percent or more! No pill can promise that! Moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling, or swimming seemed to provide the best protection. Researchers also found that women close to their ideal body weight benefited the most—showing once again the key connection between fitness, weight, and your health.