Let's Talk About Breasts
By Kristina Maxwell, Physiotherapist at Align Wellness Studio, Camana Bay
October is breast cancer awareness month in most parts of the world. In the Americas, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer to affect women. Breast cancer also occurs in men but the number of new cases is small.
What is cancer? Cancer is an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. In the case of breast cancer, abnormal cells form in the tissues of the breast and typically infiltrate the lobes and ducts.
Some factors that increase the risk of cancer are not under voluntary control such as family history (a positive family history increases the risk of cancer development) or breast tissue density (more dense breasts run a higher risk). However, there are many things that can be done to decrease the risk of cancer that are under voluntary control and some are free and simple!
Here are some ways you can potentially reduce your risk for breast cancer:
◦ Eat antioxidant rich foods.
▪ High carotenoid levels in the blood lower the risk of cancers in general. Carotenoids (vibrant pigments that act as antioxidants) are found in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and red peppers. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily.
◦ Increasing physical activity.
▪ Exercise helps to control weight. Studies by the American College of Sports Medicine show that women who gained 20-30 pounds since reaching adulthood were almost 50% more likely to develop cancer than those who gained 10 or less. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise (eg. walking) weekly as a cancer prevention method.
▪ A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who breastfeed consistently for 6 months have a 10 percent reduced risk of death from cancer compared to those who don't. The underlying thought is that since menstration doesn't occur while breastfeeding, the body is exposed to less estrogen. In essence, "breast is best" for babies and moms too.
◦ Limit unhealthy habits.
▪ Decreasing alcohol intake and quitting smoking are two easy lifestyle choices that significantly decrease cancer risk. Smoking is a no brainer as smoking increases carcinogens in body tissues. Alcohol should be limited to no more than 1 drink per day. Three drinks per day increases breast cancer risk 1.5 times that of someone who doesn't drink.
To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals, contact a health care professional at Align Wellness Studio.