Diet and Exercise: Lifestyle Changes to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer has received lots of attention in the media lately due to its role as the second most common cancer in women; thankfully, by watching your diet and exercising, you can lower your breast cancer risk.

Diet Changes

Eating certain foods and avoiding less healthy foods can help lower your risk of getting breast cancer. Alcohol is one of the worst things to drink if you’re trying to minimize your breast cancer risk; alcohol can also increase your risk of getting liver cancer and colon cancer. Although not much is known about how alcohol increases the occurrence of breast cancer, a study by the World Cancer Research Fund supports the claim that too much alcohol  of breast cancer.

It’s best to either avoid alcohol completely or limit yourself—a safe amount is two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women. The amount is lower for women due to the fact that they have more body fat than men, and body fat cannot dilute alcohol like muscle tissue can.

Maintaining a diet rich in vitamin D is another good way of lowering your breast cancer risk. This link is conclusive enough that in 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society recommended that adults get 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day to lower their risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancer by up to 50%. It’s recommended that you get your vitamin D from food, rather than the sun, since unprotected exposure to the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer. Drinking milk and eating eggs, yogurt and fish can help you get enough vitamin D on a regular basis.

Garlic is another surprising food that can help lower your breast cancer risk. Allyl sulfur, one of the ingredients of garlic, helps in stopping the development of cancer cells. You can get this benefit by cooking with garlic or taking garlic supplements. However, it’s important to cook with garlic cloves rather than garlic powder or garlic salt in order to get the most benefits from garlic.

Benefits of Exercise

Beyond being one of the best lifestyle choices you can make, exercising regularly can also help you avoid breast cancer. By exercising four hours or more per week, you considerably lower your risk of getting breast cancer. Although studies vary in their findings, a study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that exercising four hours a week can lower women’s breast cancer risk by up to 22%! This may be because exercise reduces women’s exposure to estrogen. Excess estrogen can cause cancer growth.

Exercise may also cause weight loss, which is another way of avoiding breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and not being overweight or obese can lower your breast cancer risk. These benefits are greatest for pre-menopausal women, although post-menopausal women trying to avoid breast cancer should also exercise regularly.

By making some key changes to your diet and exercise regimen, it’s easy to lower your breast cancer risk and lead a healthier life.


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