By Betty Murray
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is dedicated as a time to spread the word about breast cancer and prevention.
About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. This year alone, and estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. An additional 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year.
The good news is that the rates of breast cancer incidences have been decreasing since the year 2000. The unfortunate news is that still far to many women are undereducated when it comes to breast cancer. The biggest misconception about cancer is that there is nothing we can do to prevent a cancer diagnosis.
The truth is that the development of cancer cells in the body and the growth of those cells is often directly related to lifestyle habits, including nutrition and exercise. Numerous studies have shown a connection between alcohol consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity and breast cancer. You can lower your risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight and paying attention to what you put in your body.
Fighting breast cancer with a healthy lifestyle
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are either preparing to undergo treatment or are currently in treatment for cancer, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help your immune system do its job in fighting off the cancer. Here are some ways you can care for your immune system from breastcancer.org:
• Sleep — To keep your immune system strong, you need to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Scientific evidence suggests that sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. If you have cancer, the last thing you want to do is anything that would prevent your immune system from running on all cylinders.
• Nutrition — Eating plenty of fresh, whole foods and protein is one of the best ways you can keep your immune system strong. If you are currently undergoing treatment or recovering from surgery, eating healthy will help keep your body strong by giving it the nutrients it needs. Side effects from treatment can keep you from eating well. If you are experiencing side effects that have taken away your appetite, click here to get more information on how and what to eat when you have treatment-related side effects.
• Exercise — Regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, but it can also reduce risk of cancer recurrence, improve physical functioning and quality of life during treatment, and help reduce cancer-related fatigue. Some research suggests exercise can even help breast cancer survivors live longer.
• Stress Reduction — High levels of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) in your body can suppress your immune system, lowering your body’s effectiveness in fighting off illnesses such as cancer. If you are going through treatment for cancer, make meditation, yoga, massage, support groups, and other stress-reduction techniques part of your treatment plan. Your doctor can help you determine the form of stress reduction that is best for you.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.