October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While there is no way to prevent breast cancer, we can adopt simple habits that will reduce our risk, beginning with what we eat.
One in eight women will develop breast cancer, the most common cancer among Latinas and women worldwide. While some factors which increase risk like age, gender, and family history are beyond our control, we can control other risk factors including weight and diet through choices we make daily.
In addition to engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and not smoking, make these food habits a part of your routine:
5 Food Choices to Reduce Your Risk
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: Fresh produce is key to a balanced diet. Not sure how much is enough? The USDA recommends filling up at least ½ your plate with fruits and veggies. 50% is easy if you load up on your favorite vegetable entrees and snack on sweet fruits.
- Choose super foods: Many frutas and verduras have natural cancer-fighting properties, as I share in Angelina Jolie Inspired Meatless Monday: 7 Cancer Fighting Foods. Eating foods rich in carotenoids like kale, squash, and sweet potatoes has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence in survivors. Not sure how to prepare these ingredientes? I've got you covered. I share my favorite kale receta in Meatless Monday: Massaged Kale Salad Recipe, suggest ways to serve squash in Meatless Monday: Bastille Day French Ratatouille Recipe and Meatless Monday: Spring Garden Pasta Recipe, and sneak sweet potatoes into tacos in Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato Tacos Recipe.
- Reduce intake of meat and animal products: According to The Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine, the consumption of high-fat meat and dairy products causes the body to make more estrogen, which encourages breast cancer cell growth. Read more here. Participating in Meatless Monday is a great way to cut back on the carne. Try my sabroso vegan recipes.
- Go organic: While no studies have proven a direct connection between pesticide exposure and an increased risk of breast cancer, choosing foods grown without chemicals can decrease the toxic load on the body. I save money on organic herbs, fruits, and veggies by growing some of my own on my balcony.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Even one drink a day can increase your risk of breast cancer, so sip sparingly.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get screened on a regular basis. Self-checks, clinical checks, and yearly mammograms can make a huge difference--the survival rate of breast cancer detected at an early, localized stage is 98%. However, only 64% of Latina women over 40 had a mammogram in the past 2 years.
The women at risk are our mothers, sisters, neighbors, our familia, and amigas. Encourage all of the women--and men--in your life to take breast health seriously and make preventative measures a priority. Read more of The Wise Latina Club’s breast health tips in Salud: Angelina Jolie’s Medical Decision and a Latina Guide to Breast Health.
Choose to be proactive about your health. When reducing your risk of breast cancer consists of eating fresh delicious foods, you'll adopt these healthy habits this month and all year long.
¿Need Meatless Monday inspiration? Click here to read more of my recipes.
A teacher by day, The Wise Latina Club’s Natalie Wagner Fierro is the co-founder of the Institute for Student Health. She equally loves food (cooking or dining in Washington’s restaurants) and burning calories by distance running, practicing yoga, and archery. Click here to read more about and connect with Natalie.
Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.What will you do to reduce your risk of breast cancer?