Diet and Lifestyle Changes As Tools To Prevent And Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
We talked to an expert to find out the real deal.
October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month—the time of the year when we take a special look at the illness and further spread word about it.
Breast cancer, however, isn’t a seasonal disease. People can get it—whether you’re a female or the opposite sex—anytime. But contrary to our usual impressions when we hear the word “cancer”, this specific type isn’t that fatal, with a 99.9% cure rate. It means that when you get breast cancer, it doesn’t equate to a death sentence, shares Asian Breast Center’s President and CEO Dr. Norman San Agustin.
“If you look at the statistics, in the US, one out of eight women will develop breast cancer yet only less than 10% of them would die from it. But if you look at the Philippines, it's twice that number with one out of four women,” he says. “Out of those women, half of them would die, and 70% of those who die without treatment or without adequate treatment. And for a disease that's almost 100% curable, isn't that a huge tragedy?”
It’s why they emphasize the importance of early detection and treatment keys to survival and affordable care. The doctor points out that one need not wait for symptoms—seeing your doctor should be taken into priority.
It’s one of the lifestyle changes one should do to reduce the risk of developing the illness. Starting at the age of 35, finding a breast surgeon to have your check up is essential. At age 40, it should already be done on an annual basis. For people with family history of breast cancer, it’s wise to meet with a professional as early as 25 years old.
But even before you hit the aforementioned ages, Dr. Norman advises to regularly do a self-breast exam. And when you discover a lump or an unusual discharge coming out of your nipple, you shouldn’t wait for it to change as those are already signs of breast cancer.
Apart from medical care, diet and exercise also plays a big role in preventing breast cancer risk. When it comes to food, fat and sugar must be taken into moderation. “These two are cancer’s favorite things, which nourishes them. That’s why patients, particuarly when they’re older and obese, have a higher chance of getting cancer or having recurrence,” he notes.
While devouring your favorite liempo or lechon, and even sugary desserts, isn’t poison, cutting back on these foods is helpful in curbing the risk factors. The doctor also recommends trying out intermittent fasting, as it helps lessen your food intake as well as significantly decreases blood sugar level, reducing insulin resistance.
He adds that trading whites—rice, bread, sugar, pasta, and more—and eating more colorful meals would be the best diet to have. And of course, he mentions portion control as a great solution.
In terms of working out, Dr. Norman endorses inserting cardiovascular exercises into one’s routine. “It doesn’t just help prevent breast cancer, it's also important for your lungs, your heart, your joints, your hip, and your whole body,” he claims.
Basically, it all boils down to taking good care of your body and knowing when to seek help as needed. “Don’t be afraid of breast cancer. Being afraid drives you away from treatment. Being concerned drives you to treatment,” Dr. Norman ends. As he said, as long as it’s detected early, breast cancer can easily be defeated—so yes, go and get yourself checked!