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Lifestyle choices key to preventing breast cancer

Wallowa County Chieftain


Breast cancer is the angst of every woman, and deservedly so. It is the second most common cancer in women and affects one out of every eight ladies.

In 2017, nearly 250,000 women will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die in the U.S. Many think it only happens in older women, but I’ve seen it occur in ladies as young as 20.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everything went pink. The pink ribbon program has expanded to all types of organizations, including the NFL.

This is all in the hopes that increased awareness will lead to earlier detection and better survival. Various strategies like the pink ribbon program, self-breast exams and regular mammograms are especially promoted during this month.

We are blessed in our community to have one of the top-of-the-line advanced 3-D mammogram machines. Over the last few decades, many medical advances have resulted in higher survival rates for breast cancer. Yet, nearly all the education and awareness is focused on early detection, as if breast cancer is inevitable, with little emphasis on prevention.

While getting breast cancer is not a death sentence, wouldn’t it be even better if a women didn’t get it in the first place? There is more to prevention than the extreme measures of “preventive mastectomies” where their breasts are surgically removed on the off chance that they might someday develop breast cancer.

Ample evidence in the medical literature has shown that breast cancer can be attributed in part to lifestyle factors such as our diet and levels of activity. High lignin intake (a class of plant nutrients) is associated with reduction in breast cancer risk.

And the highest concentration of Lignin’s comes in crushed flaxseeds, where a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day is associated with a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the risk of getting breast cancer. Additionally, a diet low in fat not only decrease the risk of getting breast cancer, but can also reduces the incidence of death after getting breast cancer.

On the other hand, obesity leads to an increase in insulin-like growth factor which increases the risk of cancer. Fatty tissues are capable of manufacturing and storing estrogen-like compounds which may fuel the development and aggressiveness of breast cancers.

Fatty tissues also store a dozen or more inflammatory proteins that promote cancer growth. Patients with diabetes have a 23 percent increased risk of breast cancer developing and a 38 percent increased risk of dying of the disease compared with patients without diabetes.

Besides preventing from developing it in the first place, the latest review from worldwide data by the American Institute for Cancer Research indicated that diet, physical activity and weight control are major contributors to long-term survival after getting a diagnosis of breast cancer.

The recommendations are to avoid inactivity and to find more ways to move throughout the day. Maintaining an ideal body weight is critical, as excess weight results in more fatty tissues and more estrogen-like compounds.

Additionally, the report suggests an increase in soy products improves survival, as well as an increase in fiber intake through healthy fruits and vegetables.

Fiber inhibits the absorption of estrogen in the gastrointestinal tract and results in decreased estrogen levels. While the focus of lifestyle medicine is on the prevention of disease, it is increasingly recognized that the real issue in health care — lifestyle — should become the primary prescription for the leading causes of many of our common diseases, including lifestyle associated cancers like breast cancer.

Hippocrates (460 BC), the Father of Medicine, had it right when he said many years ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” and “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

Make daily lifestyle choices that promote health and well-being.

Dr. Kenneth D. Rose, MD, is a general surgeon at Mountain View Medical Group in Enterprise.

Articles featured in Life Extension Daily News are derived from a variety of news sources and are provided as a service by Life Extension. These articles, while of potential interest to readers of Life Extension Daily News, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Life Extension.