Monday, October 14, 2002

Breast cancer risks targeted



By Hollie W. Best
Gannett News Service

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During 2002, an estimated 203,500 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States.

The average woman has a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. The chances a woman at more than average risk will develop breast cancer varies by risk factor.

An easy way to help prevent cancer is to eat foods low in fat and high in fiber, and fruit and vegetables.

Healthy eating, in keeping with the American Cancer Society Guidelines, together with physical activity will help you get to or maintain a healthful weight. A healthful weight helps to limit blood levels of several hormones that contribute to tumor growth.

Diet guidelines

Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day. Plant foods contain phytochemicals, which have been found to slow down cancer cell growth, lower hormone levels that can trigger prostate cancer and inhibit enzymes that cause cancer.

Choose whole grains rather than processed (refined) grains and sugars.

Limit consumption of red meats, especially those high in fat and processed. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may also help fight cancer cell growth. Include flaxseed and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring in your eating plan for extra health benefits.

Lifestyle guidelines

Adults: Engage in at least moderate activity for 30 minutes or more on five or more days of the week. Forty-five minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity on five or more days per week may further enhance reductions in the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Children and adolescents: Engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days per week.

Weight guidelines

Balance caloric intake with physical activity.

Lose weight if currently overweight or obese.

Alcohol guidelines

People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Regular consumption of even a few drinks per week is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.

Women at high risk of breast cancer may want to consider not drinking any alcohol.

The best prevention strategy for breast cancer is to lower your risk factors that are modifiable.

Women at all risk levels should limit their use of hormone replacement therapy, keep weight at healthful levels and limit alcohol intake if they drink at all. And be sure to include regular breast screening - it can save your life if you do develop the disease.



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