Is it a myth or can good diet and exercise help fight breast cancer?
Most people have heard about dieting and exercising to lose weight or to prevent and control conditions like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and the likes. What about cancer?
Well yes, what you eat or don’t eat, can increase or decrease the risks of having cancer. It is true that individual foods contain chemicals that may lower cancer risk the most recent thinking is that cancer fighting powers work best when they’re eaten as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern. “It’s not just what you eat – it’s also what you don’t eat”, explains Cynthia Thompson, PhD professor at the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. Adopting the right eating plan and getting regular exercise can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer. There’s no medication that can provide that kind of protection for an average risk woman.
The WHO explains that up to a third of all cancer deaths are linked to “modifiable risks” like tobacco, obesity, poor diet and harmful use of alcohol.
For every research done by scientists on cancer, there’s always a pointer to a different dietary cause. It’s hard to keep track of what’s supposed to be bad. No particular way of life can completely eliminate that risk, but of course there are ways to greatly reduce the risk of cancer.
A registered dietitian can give you advice on the best diet and nutrition plan for you. But here are some guidelines to get started.
- Eat low-fat protein, such as baked fish, rather than red meat, sausages or other high fat meals
- Eat servings of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day
- Avoid processed meats linked to cancer; like hot dogs and smoked meets
- Eat wheat bread and brown rice rather than white bread and white rice
- Cut back on alcohol. Limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man.
- Soy; soybeans contains phytoestrogens. These are nutrients similar to the estrogen in your body. Sources of them include soybeans, tofu and soy milk. Some researchers think they can help protect against the kind of breast cancer that needs estrogen for its growth
- Antioxidants; Many vegetables, fruits, nuts and other foods have them. Good choices include broccoli, liver, carrots, blueberries and mangoes. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND CANCER
Studies on exercise are actually pretty encouraging to read. Physical activity helps reduce circulating estrogens independently of weight loss, and this study found that exercise may also help by modifying the expression of genes that make people more susceptible to breast cancer. Physical activity may also be protective against breast cancer because it helps reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity- in other words, it enhances the metabolic health.
There are quite a number of proven health benefits of exercise against cancer, some of which include;
- Part of a healthy weight control plan.
Obesity is a primary risk factor for cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many other serious health conditions.
- Boosts the excretory system so that cancer causing toxins and waste are removed more efficiently
The fewer the toxins in your system, the better you’ll feel overall. The excretory system is comprised of your blood, lymph, bladder, kidneys, and intestines.
- Enhances your immune system (specifically the lymphatic system) preventing the growth and spread of disease-causing organisms in your body.
A strong immune system is your best defense against cancer
- Makes you more conscious of your overall lifestyle choices
People who exercise regularly tend to be more attentive to their food choices and water intake. They are also more likely to eliminate pro-inflammatory substances such as dairy, processed foods and excessive alcohol consumption.