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Making smart lifestyle choices when it comes to breast health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Nancy of Nancy’s Nifty Nook, Bradford's original bulk food and supplement store, wants to promote healthy lifestyle choices for the women in our community.

Did you know that diet is one of the main reasons that North American women have such high rates of breast cancer? Let’s talk about it!

According to Nancy's, when considering breast health, there are many foods that should be avoided. These include refined carbohydrates, added sugars, fried foods, processed meats and fast foods. Of course, moderation is key, and if you must eat any of these, make sure it is in limited amounts.

Alcohol intake should also be moderated.

According to a recent study, having several drinks per day increases a woman's risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. It is recommended that wine, beer or liquor consumption be kept to two or fewer drinks per week.

When it comes to supplements, Nancy says, for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to avoid the following supplements as they will result in increased estrogen production:

  • Red clover;
  • Black cohosh;
  • Chasteberry;
  • Dong quoi;
  • Evening primrose oil; and
  • Licorice.

Estrogen and other hormones are associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.

These supplements don't have to be avoided entirely. For women who do not have breast cancer, these supplements may help women suffering from PMS and menopause and are considered safe alternative treatments for these conditions. As always, speak to a Naturopath or your local health store owner for guidance.

When it comes to the ‘yes’ list of healthy foods to eat that will help you live a fulfilling life, Nancy recommends the following:

  • Broccoli;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Kale;
  • Walnuts (plant-based protein that contains health fatty acids);
  • Lentils (plant-based protein, which helps ease inflammation and are high in antioxidants and fibre);
  • Red and purple grapes (contain high levels of resveratrol, linked to the prevention of breast, liver and stomach cancer);
  • Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries (high in antioxidants and prevent the body from cell damage);
  • Healthy soy products such as soybeans, tofu, tempeh (contain phytonutrients called isoflavones);
  • Black turtle beans (the healthiest beans high in antioxidants and a strong source of an amino acid that protects DNA);
  • Whole grains; and
  • Cabbage (provides Vitamin A & C).

Another healthy option is flax seed, which contains Omega-3 oil and can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, soups, smoothies and muffins. Organic ground is best as it has been cracked and the oils are more available. However, only buy ground flax seed from a freezer or fridge and store the same way, as it will go rancid if left out.

Oily fish supplements also provide Omega-3s (and Vitamin D3) which can also be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. When eating fish, avoid those that have been exposed to mercury.

To curb inflammation, try turmeric. Nancy says Turmeric may also impede the spread of breast cancer and lessen the damage from chemotherapy but more studies are needed

Want healthier skin and to lower your risk of cancer? Nancy explains that red and orange foods produce carotenoids (Vitamin A), which reportedly lowers the risk of certain breast cancers. Studies have shown that a diet high in carotenoids is linked to a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancers.

Aside from eating the right foods, it is important to do regular self-checks on your breasts and have a mammogram or thermograph. As well, Nancy recommends researching the products you consistently come in contact with daily like household and body/hair products and understanding how they may affect your health. There have been many studies that have looked at hair dye as a possible risk factor for various types of cancer, some suggesting possible links.

Want to move towards a more natural healthy lifestyle? Want to learn more about breast health?

Stop by Nancy’s Nifty Nook located at 152 Holland Street E. Friendly, knowledgeable staff is ready to help!