The holidays are upon us, and it is never too early to discuss key factors that can affect the risks of breast cancer. While I am not a Grinch about the holidays, we need to keep a few things in mind.
Some things we cannot change, such as family genetics, race, and gender -- more reason to control the things we can. When I travel back to the East Coast to visit family for the holidays, I bring workout clothes with me and use the hotel gym as often as I can during my visit. This makes me feel like I am at least breaking even with my holiday indulgences!
Here are a few things to keep in mind:1
Weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of breast cancer by 30% to 60% because estrogen is produced in fat cells. The more fat cells there are, the more estrogen the body produces.2
Waist size. A recent study from the British Medical Journal determined that the most important factor boosting a woman's postmenopausal breast cancer odds is if and how much her skirt size has gone up since her 20s. Research suggests that weight specifically carried around the middle is the cause of the increased risk.3
Workout. Workouts can help the body break down estrogen in a cancer-preventing way. Most experts agree that 30 to 60 minutes a day, four or five times per week is the best time frame for success.4
Drinking habits. Several studies have linked increased alcohol consumption with a higher risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, experts believe that the more you imbibe, the higher your risk.5
Diet. We all know that cutting red meat from our diets and consuming more plant-based foods can diminish cancer cell growth. Cruciferous vegetables lower inflammation and may help balance estrogen. Red-orange produce, like carrots and tomatoes, contain an antioxidant that's been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer.
Environmental toxins. Evidence continues to show us that exposure to certain toxins, called endocrine disruptors, can raise the risk of breast cancer. These synthetic chemicals accumulate in fat cells, where they can mimic natural estrogen. A common endocrine disruptor is bisphenol A (BPA), a type of plastic used in containers and cans, and preservatives found in cosmetics called phthalates. Check your lipstick and foundation!
Gong Y, Dou LJ, Liang J. (2014). Link between obesity and cancer: role of triglyceride/free fatty acid cycling. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. Oct;18(19):2808-20.
Ourania Fourkala E, et.al. (2014). Association of skirt size and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in older women: a cohort study within the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS). BMJ Open. Sep;4:9 e005400.
Kim J, Choi WJ, Jeong SH. (2013). The effects of physical activity on breast cancer survivors after diagnosis. J Cancer Prev. Sep;18(3):193-200.
Male breast cancer accounts for about 1% of all breast cancer cases in the United States, therefore it can be a shocking diagnosis. During my career as a nurse practitioner in the field of breast oncology, I have been involved in the care of only five male breast cancer cases over the last 25 years.
FDA Approves Onivyde for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, 10/27/2015 3 On October 22, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Onivyde (irinotecan liposome injection, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), in combination with fluorouracil ...