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“I Never Knew What Bravery Was Until I Saw It in My Mom”|

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The 2018 Statistics indicate over 266,120 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer (BC) and 40,920 will die from the disease. “Three years ago, my Mom became one of those 40,920 women”.  The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer (BC). With these staggering statistics I am sure many of you in some way have been touched by this horrendous disease as I tearfully sit thinking of my mom, aunts, and cousin.  As with many of you, we live with the “Awareness” of (BC) each day.

However, the good news is 3.3 million Breast Cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. with death rates from (BC) declining due to better screenings and detections, increase awareness and improved treatment options. The actual causes of (BC) are primarily due to genetics (5-10%), environmental and lifestyle factors.  Research has found that the same risk factors which cause diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease also causes Breast Cancer.

Life Style Modifications is the primary focus of “Nuapples” to make an impact in improving overall health and wellbeing.  In honor of National Breast Cancer Month, I would like to continue my quest by providing useful information on the benefits of how making a few small life style modifications would have on the prevention of (BC).  Life style patterns refer to the choices we make each day in what we eat (Diet), physical activity (Exercise), smoking or alcohol intake (Habits), and obesity (Weight Management).  As stated, lifestyle factors/choices have a direct impact on overall health.  Let’s look at the benefits of Diet Choices as it relates to Breast Cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, Choose a Plant Base Diet high in fruits and vegetables. Why fruits and vegetables, because are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (antioxidants) which are necessary for proper metabolism.  It has been heavily documented that a high intake of the phytonutrients found in cruciferous vegetables play a key role in BC prevention. By now you may be asking what are cruciferous vegetables? Well, have you ever looked at the leaf of a Collard or Mustard Green, Cabbage, or Kale?  Have you noticed the Criss cross configuration, this is where the name cruciferous comes from the crossing and inter connective veining of the leaves?  Cruciferous vegetables also include: Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts.  With my strong genetic connection with BC, I make sure each day to choose two or three serving of these powerful vegetables.  Also, fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids-lycopene are highly recommended.  Examples of these are, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, red bell, peppers, purple cabbage.  Fruit such as watermelon, papaya, peaches, plums, citrus, grapes, pomegranate, as well as green tea have also shown to be effective preventatives.

Meat:  Limit overall intake, however when you do consume meat choose seafood, poultry and lean beef and pork.  Avoid processed red meats.  Modify cooking methods, it has been reported when meat is cooked at very high temperatures, open heating, grilling, and/or frying may increase the risk of BC.

Oils: Choose Olive Oil because of its high content of antioxidants. Caution use of Polyunsaturated oils (linoleic acid) which has been associated with increasing the risk of BC.  Polyunsaturated oils are canola, safflower, peanut, and corn oils. Totally avoid trans-fatty acids (margarines), or any product that contain trans-fatty acids.

Alcohol: Limit alcohol.  Research reports alcohol consumption as being associated with a 35% risk of Breast Cancer, see previous blog “Last Call for Alcohol”.

The American Cancer Society recommends the Mediterranean Diet or the DASH Diet with extra virgin Olive Oil as the main source of fat, these diets contain all of the enclosed Dietary recommendations.

In summary, choose to: Follow a Mediterranean/Dash Diet Plan, Exercise daily, Avoid Smoking, manage your Weight, and Limit/Avoid Alcohol consumption.   These small life style modifications are evidence-based strategies which will lower your risk of developing Breast Cancer.  At the end of the day it is your choice… “Choose Wisely”