Every year, 1.7 million new cases of cancer are recorded. Statistics show that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s about 12 percent of the population. Guys, you aren’t off the hook here: 1 in 1,000 men will face breast cancer. (1,2)
To some, these numbers may feel more personal, and breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. This is the time of year to show support and stand up against this epidemic.
During the month of October, let your compassion shine and show your love to those who have been diagnosed. I want to increase awareness through the Happy Gut community and provide encouragement to you or those you know who rise to fight against breast cancer.
You can show your support in so many different ways: Fundraising, participating in a walk, or campaigning. Even a continuous hand to hold to fighters on a regular basis.
But the biggest way to support breast cancer awareness is to take action with the many things you can do to prevent this disease.
In my practice, I strive for awareness about breast cancer through better understanding along with some healthy strategies:
Toxins are impossible to completely avoid, but you can become more aware and avoid a decent amount of them.
About 85 percent of breast cancer cases are not associated with disease risk within the family. (2) Most, in other words, are environmental and not genetic. In fact, we are exposed to numerous carcinogens on a daily basis whether we know it or not.
Toxins can hide in things like beauty products, food, and the environment. To learn more about how to minimize them and their impact, visit the Environmental Working Group.
Even though a glass of red wine can possibly reduce your risk of cancer, studies show that drinking alcohol can increase one’s risk of breast cancer. (3) If possible, you’re better off sticking to a gut-friendly mocktail with digestive bitters and soda water.
Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
GMO foods are grown with harmful pesticides that can disrupt the microbiome and even increase the risk of cancer. Many times, GMO foods contain fewer nutrients. The hype around organic, seasonal, and homegrown is something to take seriously when you’re trying to reduce the risk of disease.
Cut out the white sugar and most other sources as well. While white sugar may not directly cause cancer, it can lead to other chronic diseases like obesity. Obesity is actually a risk factor for breast cancer. (4) Sugar can contribute to gut dysbiosis. The less you eat, the less sugar you crave! Your taste buds will adapt to the natural taste of real food.
Household and Beauty Products
You probably haven’t thought much about your beauty products, other than they are part of your daily routine before you head out the door. Between the time you wake up and leave for work, you may have increased your toxic load. Shampoos, lotions, and makeup can contain toxic ingredients that have been linked to increased cancer risk.
The same goes for household cleaning products. Most are loaded with chemicals and fragrances. I suggest doing a clean sweep and taking a deeper look at the products you use on a daily basis.
Start to slowly replace items. You will also find a lot less clutter in the house as many natural products can be used for multiple purposes. Bet you didn’t think your jar of coconut oil could be used to saute vegetables, act as a moisturizer, and take makeup off!
As we continue to spread awareness for breast cancer during the month of October, understanding how to properly nourish the body becomes crucial. For many, fighting the battle against breast cancer is for the sole purpose to return to health again. During this month, take more time to develop healthy habits and educate others as well!
A Healthy Gut
The microbiome is the center of your well-being in so many ways. Most of the immune system is in the gut. In 15-20 percent of cancer patients, gut dysbiosis contributes to tumor growth. (1) Microbes there can either help fight off disease or promote it. Simply put, supporting a healthy gut is essential to manage disease (including breast cancer) risk.
Eat organic and fresh whole foods. Make sure you add plenty of fiber with dark leafy greens, berries, nuts, and other vegetables. Bowel movements help your body detoxify. Cut out processed foods, gluten, dairy, sugar, and GMO foods. These foods can disrupt the natural balance of beneficial microbes and leave room for pathogenic bugs.
Sleep is probably the most important thing you can do for your health. This is the time your body detoxes, repairs, and heals. Aim for 7-9 hours each night as a way to support your body and brain.
Time in Nature
Time in nature is a great way to reset your internal clock. The natural sunlight, trees, and earth beneath your feet all provide healing benefits. Make it a point to get outside daily!
Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread on a daily basis. Find joy in how you choose to move your body every day! This could be a dance class, yoga, walking with a friend, or body weight exercises. Whatever it is, find what works for your body to promote your overall health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a risk factor for developing breast cancer, among other chronic diseases. Implementing good eating habits, watching your portions, moving your body daily, and utilizing stress management techniques can all help you maintain a healthy weight.
1.Bhatt AP, Redinbo MR, Bultman SJ. (2017).The role of the microbiome in cancer development and therapy. CA J Clin, 67(4), 326-44.
2.U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.Retrieved from http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
3. Alcohol and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet
4.Obesity and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet