Under 50? Get Breast Cancer Aware NOW and Reduce Your Risk!
If you’re under 50, make Breast Cancer Awareness Month a time to get breast cancer aware NOW and learn how you can reduce your risk.
54,900 NEW cases; one in SEVEN women; one in FIVE under 50
For those of us under 50, the least of our worries may be about breast cancer – a disease that has always been associated with ageing. But Cancer Research UK statistics show that women are falling prey to this devastating disease at a younger and younger age, with incidence rates rise steadily from around age 30-34.
Rates of breast cancer have increased 99% since records began in 1971 – and they’re truly shocking statistics:
- There are almost 55,000 new breast cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s around 150 every day (2013-2015).
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer (both sexes) in the UK, accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases (2015).
- In females in the UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer, with around 54,800 new cases in 2015.
- As of this month (September 2018), 1 in 7 women (and around 400 men) in the UK will receive a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.
- 20% of women diagnosed will be under 50 years old.
More sobering, perhaps, is knowing that around 1 in FOUR of those cases is preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.
As a huge supporter of the independent charity Breast Cancer UK, I’m committed to raising awareness of breast cancer. And, as a champion of lifestyle and preventive medicine, I want to help women understand how they can reduce their risk for this distressing disease and even prevent it.
Start reducing your risk NOW!
Breast cancer can take many years to develop, so it’s never too early to learn how you can reduce your risk by making better diet and lifestyle choices. Although we can’t completely eliminate the risk of breast cancer, there is plenty we can do to reduce the risks, not only for ourselves but for to our children and theirs.
So, let’s take a look at the lifestyle issues that contribute to the development of the disease.
Five simple tips to help reduce your risk
These tips are drawn from Breast Cancer UK; the links to the relevant research (and much more information) can be found on their website at breastcanceruk.org.uk
- Reduce your alcohol consumption – there is a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and breast cancer – and indeed other cancers. Alcohol increases oestrogen levels in the bloodstream (associated with increased breast cancer risk) and alcohol metabolism produces harmful carcinogenic by-products which can accumulate in breast tissue.
- Do more exercise – Even moderate levels of exercise (around 150 minutes per week or 20 minutes per day) have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk, by reducing body fat and, in turn, oestrogen and other hormones in the bloodstream. Exercise also reduces inflammation in the body, reduces insulin resistance and decreases oxidative stress and moves lymph fluid – all of which help reduce cancer risk. However, don’t go crazy in the gym… over-exercise stresses the body and produces a damaging hormonal response – see my post Move It, Use It, But Don’t Lose it.
- Improve your diet – will help reduce your weight, support your digestive health and your immune system – and lower your risk of breast cancer. Good quality, grass-fed meat, soil-grown fruit and vegetables (organic if at all possible) are a great choice. Research has shown that a varied Mediterranean-style diet (with a wide variety of animal proteins, unrefined carbs, fats, colourful fruit and veg) has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Look out for an upcoming post on a cancer-protective diet later this month…
- Reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals – the scientific community is becoming increasingly concerned about the plethora of chemicals which interfere with our hormones (endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs). It’s emerging that these chemicals – found everywhere in beauty and personal care products, household cleaning products, cooking utensils, food and drink storage containers and garden care products – are contributing to the sharp rise in cases of breast cancer. Your cherished ‘beauty’ products may not be so pretty after all – commit to using natural cosmetics, free-from harmful substances. Or, check out this great website and save yourself a TON of money by making your own personal and home care products, with simple, healthy ingredients like coconut and olive oil, high quality, pure essential oils, bicarbonate of soda, bentonite clay, lemon juice, sea salt… and more!
- Reduce the use of HRT and consider alternatives to oral contraception – Hormone replacement therapy and ‘the pill’ contain synthetic derivatives of the natural hormones oestrogen and progesterone. In ‘mimicking’ oestrogen, they increase the risk of breast cancer in the same ways excess natural oestrogens do. Consider switching to bio-identical hormones and/or making diet and lifestyle changes – these can work wonders in managing peri and menopause symptoms. Do your research on hormone-free methods of contraception. Get informed and consult your clinician if you are considering a course of HRT or contraception, or before making any changes to your current situation.
#DitchTheJunk and reduce toxicity in your home!
It’s well worth labouring this point: our lives are chock full of toxic chemical products – ubiquitously found in poorly or unregulated cosmetics and household cleaning products and they’re difficult to avoid…
We inhale these toxic chemicals as we breathe; we ingest them through our food and drink; and we absorb them through our skin by direct application, or via contact with our clothes (think washing powder, fabric softener, etc.).
Did you know that around 80% of what we put onto our skin (and probably 100% of what we put onto our scalp) is absorbed into our blood-stream within 30 seconds? Skin ingestion is a particularly harmful route because the toxins are carried all around the body before our liver has a chance to get to work on them.
In a nutshell: Research. Replace. Reduce.
Think about what you’re using around your home, where and why:
In the living areas, avoid air fresheners, scented candles and perfumed cleaning products and use bowls of fresh herbs, or diffuse pure essential oils instead.
In the kitchen, use organic, fresh produce. Discard all plastic bottles and food containers – use, glass, ceramic or stainless steel.
In the bathroom, cut out the chemical cosmetics, the fragranced wet wipes, the ammonia-ridden hair dyes.
In the bedrooms, use water-based paints for decorating and avoid removing old paint, which may contain lead. Avoid new carpets or laminate flooring – choose natural cork, wood or ceramic tiles – and avoid newly-bought, plywood furniture.
Making these changes may take time, but it needn’t be difficult. Everything you can do, however small, will have a positive impact. Check out the internet for advice on natural lifestyle and ways to reduce your toxic load – there is a ton of stuff out there!
Please use and support Breast Cancer UK!
Breast Cancer UK is dedicated to achieving the primary prevention of breast cancer, by reducing public exposure to the carcinogenic and hazardous chemicals in our environment and everyday products. Their vision is a world in which the environmental and chemical causes of breast cancer have been eliminated so that fewer people have to live in fear, suffer the anxiety and trauma of diagnosis, treatment, illness and potential death which results from the disease.
Making simple changes to our lifestyles can help reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals which may cause a variety of health problems, including breast cancer. Breast Cancer UK has produced a series of useful handouts, which I’ve compiled into a pdf (see below) for you to download.
You’ll find a plethora of information (and evidenced-based research) on the BCUK website – please take a look!
Finally, if you are able, please support the work of this independent charity. Their important work is not funded by grants from Government or from industry – it relies entirely on support from members of the public.