IT’S FUNNY; IT IS FALL; THERE ARE THE COLORS OF AUTUMN ALL AROUND US AS WE EXPERIENCE THE CHANGE OF THE SEASONS AND THE LEAVES CHANGE COLORS. WE ARE AWASH IN A SEA OF ORANGE, RED, YELLOWS, GOLD AND BROWN. OUR SENSES BEGIN TO BE PRIMED FOR ALL THE SIGHTS, SMELLS AND TASTES OF THE FALL SEASON.
And then quite suddenly, because it is October there is pink everywhere; even some of the football players wear pink shoes! All the pink is in support of Breast Cancer Awareness; it is wonderful to see such support for the many people who fall victim to this disease. The people who have gone through this diagnosis and treatment, as well as their family members and friends, deserve to be celebrated for all their hard work. It isn’t easy. I am glad to see the focus on more awareness of this disease and on more research for newer and more effective treatments. We need it.
But we also need increased awareness of what promotes breast health in addition to how to fight breast cancer when it occurs. We would benefit greatly from increasing our attention to the prevention of breast cancer.
And what would this take? Obviously, there is no easy or simple answer. There are myriad factors that influence a person’s likelihood of developing a cancer; some of which we can influence and some of which we can’t. There are genetic factors, factors associated with our reproductive histories, hormonal and environmental factors. There are many more questions than answers, but I do believe that there are some fundamental basic steps that women can take to decrease their overall risk of developing breast cancer.
And what are these? First look at nutritional factors: according to the National Cancer Institute, particularly in post menopausal women, there is an association between increased BMI and risk of breast cancer. Keeping to an ideal body weight then, can help decrease that risk.
Limiting our exposure to plastics and other toxins can be a beneficial component to promoting good breast health. These compounds can exert a direct toxic effect and can also be harmful as they act as endocrine disruptors; causing an estrogenic effect themselves. It is best to avoid excessive exposure to these plastics; avoid plastic food storage containers, avoid using plastic containers in the microwave, choose glass or metal water bottles.
In recent years we have gained an increased understanding of how we metabolize estrogen, and what factors are important to help try to optimize that. We know many of the nutrients that are involved, and supporting the body with proper B vitamins, magnesium, cruciferous vegetables, and green tea can also be useful in trying to help ensure a healthy level of estrogen.
And we need to remember the toxic effect of stress and how, when excessive or chronic, it is known to be harmful to the immune system. Having elevated stress hormones decreases the body’s ability to rest and repair, as it is always caught up in fight or flight. Learning ways to help address and deal with the stress in our lives is a critical component of overall health, including breast health.
These are some of the ways that we can bring our attention to supporting our breast health and hopefully in so doing, reduce our risk of breast cancer. These are all basically lifestyle medicine therapies; things that we can each learn to do.
So along with the increased awareness of the very real trials of having and dealing with breast cancer, we can turn our attention this month to the things that we can each do in our own lives to try to preserve and maintain our breast health.