Colleton Medical Center - April 19, 2017

It is estimated that over our lifetime women in the US have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer. Certain things such as family history and gene mutations we cannot change. However, there are a few simple things that we can do to decrease the chances that we will develop breast cancer. Here is what I have found.

  1. Exercise. Just two and a half hours a week of vigorous walking can decrease the risk of breast cancer by almost 20%.
  2. Eat a healthy diet that includes ground flax seed. A study done in Canada took 39 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. For a month they were given either a regular muffin or a muffin made with 25 grams of ground flax. No other treatment was administered. At the end of the month they had another breast biopsy and the activity of the cancer cells was measured. Those who had eaten the daily flax seed muffin had a 31% decrease in the activity of their breast cancer cells. Those with HER-2 oncogenes (a more aggressive form of cancer) showed a 71% decrease in the activity of their cancer cells.
    I suggest that you gradually add 2 tablespoons of ground flax into your diet. You can put it in smoothies, salads, and yogurt or in muffins. Make sure you keep it in the refrigerator if it is already ground. Caution: you need to increase the amount gradually or you will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom.
  3. Eat mushrooms. Actually it is better if you get medicinal mushrooms in capsules. I recommend a blend of 17 mushrooms called Mycommunity that includes Reishi, Maitaki, Shiitaki, Turkey tail and Lion’s Mane. I also recommend capsules of Turkey Tail mushrooms in addition to the blend. Multiple scientific studies done around the world have found that mushrooms help to prevent breast cancer as well as improve treatment.
    Certain types of mushrooms are able to boost the body’s ability to fight cancer cells. The beauty of these mushrooms is that they are food and have virtually no side effects unless of course you are allergic to mushrooms.
  4. Drink green tea. Studies of Asian-American women found that those who drank green tea had significantly less breast cancer than those who did not drink it. How much to drink is unclear, but it is healthy and you might want to drink up many a cup.
  5. Eat your veggies especially the cruciferous ones such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. The indol-3-carbinol in the vegetables may reduce the negative effect of estrogen on the breast. Soy in the form of food can also help prevent breast cancer through a similar mechanism.
  6. Take your vitamin D and calcium. A recent clinical trial found that supplementing women’s diet with daily calcium (1500 mgs) and vitamin D (1000 IU’s) reduced their overall cancer rate by 60%. Of course it is best to get calcium from the diet. New recommendations have reduced the amount needed to 800 mgs a day but vitamin D is most consistently obtained from a supplement.

Making just a few simple changes to your lifestyle and adding a couple of supplements can have a huge impact on preventing one of the most dreaded diseases for women. You can’t change your parents or your genetic code (yet), but you can be proactive about your health and do what you need to do to make a difference.

This article originally appeared on Sharecare.