Our country has a preponderance for awareness events. Heck, more like awareness months. A prime example of this is October, which is coined as “breast cancer awareness month.” If you did an aerial view of our country this month, you’d likely see a sea of pink. I do like that it brings women together to support one another during a difficult time in life. There is no denying that social support through community is needed. The National Breast Cancer Foundation declares, “While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go and need your help!” However, is all the millions and billions of dollars donated going to the best solution of all, which is prevention?
Often prevention is bundled with a test called a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray that is used to detect lumps in the breast that may be cancerous. Unfortunately, this screening method often detects small, benign (non-harmful, non-cancerous) tumors and misses rare, aggressive tumors. A 2009 meta-analysis (a gold standard in the research world) by the Cochrane Database Review found that for every 2,000 women screened in a 10-year period, the life of one woman would be prolonged whereas 10 healthy women would be treated unnecessarily. With testing, there is a 30% rate of overdiagnosis and overtreatment and an increased absolute risk of developing cancer by 0.5%. Another huge dilemma is mammograms often catch tumors that have been growing for up to 20 years. That’s not prevention. One of my favorite physicians is Dr. Michael Greger because he presents the unbiased (not funded by industries) scientific research. Check out his video on mammograms and breast cancer here or veggies vs. breast cancer.
So what’s the solution? I tend to be a proactive person and want to make positive change. I’m guessing you want the same. One thing we do know is breast cancer is growing in magnitude in the United States. I believe more time and resources should be spent on causes and prevention of breast cancer. What is one of our best prevention strategies? It has to do with what we fuel our bodies with every day. Cruciferous vegetables, which includes arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, cabbage, bok choy, brussels sprouts and others should be a primary focus. These super veggies produce isothiocyanates, which are powerful anti-cancer compounds. You want these superheros working for you because they kill cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming. One study found that just 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables per day reduced the risk of breast cancer by 50%. Wow! And don't forget that orange is the new pink! Orange, or beta-carotene rich foods as listed above, can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 19%! It's time to start incorporating more sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin (perfect time for the holidays!), cantaloupe, red bell pepper, grapefruit, apricots, mango, tomatoes and papaya in!
Did you know that simply maintaining a healthy weight lowers risk of cancer or a recurrence as well? Incorporating more high-nutrition, low-fat foods in your diet can help and you will learn all of our time-tested tips and tricks for long-term weight control in our Kickstart Your Health class.
Below I’ve included some recipes which can help you to incorporate these superheroes in your diet everyday or at a very minimum, 4-5 days per week. Men, don't go to sleep because this applies to you! These powerhouses of nutrition reduce your overall cancer risk, especially prostate cancer. Aim for at least a cup size serving size. A super easy idea is to throw kale into your smoothie and you’ve fulfilled your goal for the day. You can also add these veggies to stir-fries, soups or eat them raw dipped in hummus. Enjoy!
- Jenn, RN
Kale Green Smoothie
Rainbow Cabbage Salad
Vegetable Stir-Fry with Carrots, Broccoli & Cauliflower (to keep the recipe low-fat, use water or veggie broth instead of oil for sautéing)