3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk

October may be a great time to raise breast cancer awareness, but for some women all of the pink can be overwhelming. Breast cancer hits at the core of our womanhood and just the thought can signal fear, helplessness or even a tendency to avoid the issue altogether.

Read Janet’s Breast Cancer Story

Today, I’m encouraging you to face any fears you may have. And in that confrontation find grace and comfort knowing that breast cancer prevention isn’t just a shot in the dark. Research shows that you can significantly lower your risk by living a healthier lifestyle.

Here are three surprisingly simple ways to cut your breast cancer risk.

3 Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

Reduce your alcohol intake

I recommend my female patients limit alcohol to three servings per week (men should stick to 6-7, tops). Ultimately, alcohol is converted to sugar which triggers inflammation. It is also burdensome on the liver, impairing detoxification – a key function in cancer prevention.

Enjoying a glass of wine here and there is fine, but it’s important to find other ways to unwind. How about 20 minutes of gentle yoga? A good book and steaming cup of tea? Or, one of my favorites, a bath made inviting with Epsom salt and your favorite essential oils?

Eat orange foods

Did you know that carotenoid-rich foods can put a serious dent in your breast cancer risk? Studies suggest that those with the highest levels of carotenoids in the blood have a 20-30% reduced risk of breast cancer.

Take advantage of the fantastic array of orange veggies available this fall – pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash (such as kabocha and butternut). Dark, leafy greens also contain a healthy dose!

Prioritize sleep – and make sure it’s dark

Getting consistent sleep – between 7 and 9 hours a night, 5 nights a week – has a role in breast cancer prevention.

Shift workers and others with altered schedules have an increased breast cancer risk as well as those who sleep in a room that isn’t sufficiently dark. Researchers think this may be linked to low melatonin levels due to nighttime light exposure and irregular sleep-wake patterns (2).

I hope you’re inspired to incorporate these tips into your healthy lifestyle. And don’t forget, early detection is as simple as 1-2-3!

  • Remember to schedule your annual mammography (which detects lumps) and thermography (which measures inflammation).
  • Ask your doctor about yearly hormone tests to track your own unique fluctuations.
  • Stay on top of your monthly self-exams.