No individual’s journey is straightforward when it comes to cancer. The disease can drastically impact a patient’s quality of life and leave a lasting footprint on them and their families.
It’s up to us to live smarter, given that breast cancer is a particularly significant threat to more than half our population.
It ranks as the most prevalent cancer among females, and in 2015 alone, 242,476 women received new breast cancer diagnoses and 41,523 died from breast cancer according to US Cancer Statistics. The same disease currently affects roughly 1 in 1,000 men.
1. Get Your Body Right
While the most incredible resource of our time, the internet is filled with advice that can be confusing to navigate or, worse, misleading- especially when it comes to diet and exercise. Instead, let’s try a few solid rules of thumb.
Fruits and candy bars have big differences between them, but in a sugar rush, both may seem like viable options. Ask yourself: which choice is processed and which one is not? The processed item will in all likelihood have heaps of added sugars, fats, and other ingredients you’d never use in your own kitchen.
Once you’ve taken stock of your pantry, your appetite- and shopping list- will have much more room for nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and spices. Everyday foods known to have a particular impact on cancer cells in breast tissue include broccoli, nuts, olive oil, turmeric, and flaxseeds. Of course, be sure to keep your diet balanced, incorporating produce of all kinds for maximum vitamin and antioxidant benefit.
Exercise has a bounty of benefits for our physical and mental well-being. But, did you know that over two dozen studies show that regularly exercising females “have a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than their sedentary peers?” With incredible gains like these, it’s time to get moving.
The best part? You don’t have to go from 0 to 100 overnight. Try these tips to get started:
- At work, rely on the elevator less and stairs more, stretch every thirty minutes, or even visit a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.
- At home, follow your favorite YouTube workout, unwind with a post-dinner stroll, or try some push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches, and more while watching TV.
- If you prefer something more social, try joining a sports team, go dancing, or enlist a few friends or coworkers for a workout.
See these fitness recommendations from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for more. You’re sure to find something that’s right for you.
2. Mind Your Head
Ordinary stress is not known in the scientific community as a direct cause of cancer, but numerous studies have found associations between severe stress levels and increased risk for breast cancer, while others have linked stress to breast cancer aggressiveness and potential metastasis. Better to be safe than stressed!
In fact, dealing with excessive stress can lead us into other unhealthy habits like smoking, overeating, excessive alcohol consumption that could expose us to greater cancer risk. The solution?
Join the ranks of athlete Kobe Bryant, entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, and supermodel Gisele Bündchen and try your hand at meditation. Learn how to ease your afflictions and see the benefits unfold. See this comprehensive meditation guide from Lion’s Roar to learn how to get started.
Or, consider taking a stress management class, join a support group, or volunteer. That’s right: giving back can help you take you out of your own head and will help you feel good about helping others.
But of course, if you’re having excessive difficulty, reach out to a mental health professional or the Crisis Text Line (for US residents).
3. Check Yourself
Through screening and early detection, doctors may detect and treat cancers more effectively in its early stages. There are several pathways.
See the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s recent cancer prevention initiatives for men in California.
Mammograms are important, too, as they may also detect what a self-exam cannot (and vice versa). Women aged 40+ should talk to their doctor about getting annual mammograms, and so should men- particularly if they have a strong family history of breast cancer.
The Tzu Chi Medical Foundation performs free mammograms for low-income individuals in California. Visit tzuchimedicalfoundation.org or call (626) 636-8700 to set up an appointment.
And, in those cases, there are advanced tests and medications you can take in case you do have a significantly higher risk factor. Just be sure to talk to your doctor to discuss what’s right for you.
No Matter What, Get Ready to Live Better
In the end, these guidelines cannot and do not promise any individual will be cancer-free. No diet, no fitness regimen, and no medical test can give you 100% assurance. But, if you are ready to eat healthier, feel stronger, and be more in tune with your body, that we can promise.
And, if you’d like to learn more about new topics in cancer treatment and about our efforts in cancer prevention, be sure to register for the 2019 TIMA Global Forum, coming to San Dimas, California from March 29-30, 2019.