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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

10/4/2012 - Pink Ribbon Month

It is October, which means a lot of stuff to me: football/tailgating, pumpkin carving, trick or treat candy, wearing scarves daily, and cool temps that cause me to see my breath during morning jogs. As a 25 year-old female it should also mean one more thing: breast cancer awareness!
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to learn how to reduce your risk through eating right, engaging in physical activity, and getting examined. All women are vulnerable to breast cancer, but some have an increased risk. Risk factors include: a family history of breast cancer; menstruation before age twelve; menopause after age fifty-five; inherited gene mutations; pregnancy of first child after age thirty-five; overweight; and older age.

Don't panic! Having certain risk factors doesn't make cancer inevitable, and research has found that eating smarter can make a difference. Foods high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients can protect against some cancers:

  • Cruciferous and dark, leafy green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale
  • Fruits: citrus, berries, cherries
  • Whole-grains: oats, barley, bulgur, whole-grain pastas, breads, cereals, crackers
  • Legumes: dried beans and peas, lentils, soybeans.

Because weight is closely connected with breast cancer, engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce your risk and allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Try adding simple exercises to your work day like hand-delivering a message or going for a walk during lunch. For optimal health, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Another important way to take breast health into your own hands (no pun intended) is to receive regular breast exams. Breast exams, along with mammograms, can improve the chance of detecting breast cancer early. Clinical breast exams are very important and are recommended every one to three years for most women in their 20s and 30s.  After women turn 40, exams are recommended every year. You can talk with your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider about your specific risks for breast cancer to know how frequently to get exams.

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