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Reduce the risk of breast cancer

This is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maintaining that focus is important since breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, regardless of race, contributing more than 25 percent of new cancer cases.

Although more women are surviving, breast cancer has been on the rise for several years, and there’s no simple answer as to why. Breast cancer is a complicated disease with a variety of different causes, and many aspects of our lives swing our risk in one direction or another. While some of these are out of our hands, others can be controlled, which is why eating healthy and exercising can help reduce risk.

As to what to drink, water is best, and coffee and tea are also useful because they contain antioxidants that can reduce your risk of cancer. You should eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Foods to stay away from include grilled and red meat and processed foods. Eat them only occasionally.

If there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, your risks are higher, and you should be informed on how to reduce it. A good place to start is the Mayo Clinic. Visit mayoclinic.org and search for “reduce breast cancer risk” for dozens of articles on that subject.

You’ll learn what you likely already know: limit alcohol, don’t smoke, control your weight, be physically active, breast-feed and limit hormone therapy. “Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history,” the clinic advises.

In addition to decreasing your risk of breast cancer, a healthy diet also staves off diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Says the clinic, “Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and eat fish instead of red meat.

To learn more about other ways you can help fight breast cancer, visit komeneasttennessee.org.

* Guest editorial from The Kingsport Times-News in Kingsport, Tenn.

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