3 Easy Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

Kristine Burke, MD
April 4, 2016

In my previous posts, I talked about what really causes breast cancer (read it here) and why a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent it (read it here).

If you're already making changes, you're taking a huge step in the right direction to finally take control of your health.

Yet diet isn't the only thing you should be thinking about. There are some other ways you can boost your protection. Here are three:

1. Cut down on chemicals. If you're like most women, you have a favorite liptstick, perfume, and moisturizer, but all those products you use on a daily basis are filled with toxic chemicals. Parabens and phthalates are by far the worst offenders and have been linked to breast cancer.

We're actually exposed to nearly 80,000 chemicals each day! So although it's impossible to completely avoid them, here are a few easy ways to reduce your exposure:

  • Avoid personal care products that list ingredients like "fragrance" or that end in -paraben. Check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep site or use the Good Guide app to see how your products rank.
  • Ask for your receipts in the bag and wash your hands after handling them.
  • Use glass instead of plastic, and never heat food in plastic containers or steam bags.
  • Nix nonstick pans and use stainless steel, ceramic, or cast iron instead.

2. Get off the couch. You know exercise has so many benefits, but add one more to the list: it can actually improve the health of your cells so you'll have a strong defense system against breast cancer.

In fact, 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week will decrease your risk for breast cancer by 18 percent. The good news is that you don't have to spend hours at the gym or sign up for boot camp. Here are some easy ways to make it work:

  • Make it fun by by trying a new class like spinning, Zumba, or Latin dance.
  • Train for an endurance event like a 2 mile or 5k race.
  • Do aerobic interval training: for 30 to 60 seconds, work at 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, then for 1 to 3 minutes scale back to 50 percent. Do that for 20 or 30 minutes.
  • Exercise with your spouse, children, or a friend.
  • Get a wearable fitness device and track your progress.

3. Then, relax. All of the women I see complain they're always busy, overwhelmed, and put everyone else's needs before their own. I'm a busy working mom myself and I understand how difficult it can be to make time for yourself. But the more opportunities you have to re-energize, the less inflammation you'll have, and the more protection against breast cancer. Try at least one of these this week and I promise you'll feel more Zen:

  • Listen to a guided meditation.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  • Go on a hike, pray, or volunteer.
  • Power down your iPad an hour early and do something for yourself.
  • Start a new hobby.
  • Listen to music.
  • Do yoga.
  • Ask us about HeartMath heart rate variability.

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