Breast Cancer and Modifiable Risk Factors

Obesity has a complicated relationship to breast cancer risk. Multiple studies have suggested that obesity is associated with both an increased risk of developing breast cancer and worse prognosis after onset. Components such as body mass index (BMI), weight, weight gain and waist to hip ratio have all been positively associated with higher risk of developing breast cancer in post-menopausal women. In most, but not all studies, an inverse relationship has been found between weight and breast cancer among pre-menopausal women. Despite complex data, enough evidence is available to suggest that weight management, through a lifestyle modification, should be a part of the strategy to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of breast cancer.

Additional breast cancer risk factors have been identified over the years through thorough research. While some are not modifiable, many of them are. Modifiable risk factors include: obesity, metabolic syndrome, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet, nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. In fact, alcohol consumption and obesity have consistently shown to be correlated with an increased breast cancer risk. Ultimately, research has suggests that personalized lifestyle changes can lead to a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Diet may be one of the most straightforward risk factors to modify in order to reduce risk of breast cancer. Most commonly suggested is a diet similar to those of traditional Mediterranean diets, with the consumption of fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber intake and vitamin supplementation – specifically, but not limited to, nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B9 (Folate) and Vitamin B12 (cobolamin). At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we test everything from antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids. We make sure to test for nutritional status in order to create unique, individual based treatment plans.

Physical activity can also be easily be implemented into daily routines to reduce risk. Studies have shown there was at least a 25% average risk reduction amongst physically active women as compared to the least active women. The associates were strongest for activity sustained over the lifetime and done after menopause, and for activity that of moderate to vigorous intensity and performed regularly.

To REDUCE your breast cancer risk focus on these things:

  • Stay active and exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Minimize alcohol consumption.
  • Do NOT smoke.
  • Adopt a clean, whole food based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, proteins and fiber. Avoid grains, sugars and carbs!
  • Supplement when needed–We can help you determine your needs/deficiencies!
  • Avoid unnecessary toxins–specifically those in household, personal care and food items.
  • Manage stress–cortisol from chronic or ongoing stress creates inflammation and can
    lead to hormonal imbalances. These hormonal imbalances can then alter levels of
    estrogens and effect the way our body breaks them down.

As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, we encourage women and men to always keep these modifiable risk factors in mind. While family history does play a role in occurrence, it is important to note that only 10% of women diagnosed have a family history, meaning the majority of women do not have any family history of breast cancer. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions on building a healthy lifestyle.