April is Daffodil Month.
The Canadian Cancer Society asks us all to buy a daffodil pin
to support programs that help those with cancer
and to support cancer research.
It is also a good time to reflect on how we can reduce our chance of developing cancer.
In this blog I want to focus on
women and breast cancer.
Each type of cancer is unique in terms of which factors increase or decrease risk.
A key factor that affects your risk of breast cancer is
your lifetime exposure to estrogen.
Each menstrual cycle exposes you to high levels of estrogen.
So anything that reduces the number of cycles you’ve had for a lifetime…
like starting your periods later, entering menopause earlier, and breastfeeding…
all reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Two common myths about breast cancer are:
Eating vegetables and fruits will reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Recent studies have shown that vegetables and fruits may reduce your risk of throat or mouth cancer, but not breast cancer.
The hormones given to cattle will increase your breast cancer risk.
No, they do not. This is because the amounts in beef are very small
compared to the amount of estrogen produced in a girl or woman daily.
Organic beef (90 grams) – 1.5 nanograms estrogen
Beef from cattle given hormones (90 grams) – 2.2 nanograms estrogen
Estrogen produced daily:
In a woman – 200,000 to a million nanograms
In a prepubescent girl – 54,000 nanograms
There are many environmental chemicals,
including those found in personal care products, cosmetics,
household products and plastics,
that have been shown to increase breast cancer risk.
When it comes to your diet,
the two main factors that recent research has shown
increase your risk of breast cancer are:
1. Being overweight
2. Drinking alcohol
Being overweight as a girl means you begin your periods earlier.
Being overweight as a woman means you enter menopause later.
Being overweight after menopause means that you have higher levels of estrogen because of the estrogen that fat cells produce.
A glass of red wine each day may be good advice to reduce your risk of heart disease.
If you are a man.
But not for women.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis means that you have higher levels of estrogen
because estrogen and alcohol are metabolized in the liver using the same pathway.
And alcohol always is dealt with first, while estrogen levels increase.
So, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by:
Losing weight if you need to
Start reducing calories by cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages and deep fried foods.
Drinking alcohol only on occasion, not daily, and limiting it to one drink per occasion.
Click on the link below to view Ruth’s CTV Noon News interview about breast cancer: