The #1 risk factor for developing breast cancer is simply being a woman. In the US, there are about 190,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 60,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer per year. And 99% of those cases are women.
As with many other diseases, your risk of breast cancer goes up as you get older. About two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
Women with close relatives who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease. If you’ve had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled.
About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child.
One Way to Reduce Your Risk
Diet is thought to be at least partly responsible for about 30% to 40% of all cancers. No food or diet can prevent you from getting breast cancer. But some foods can make your body the healthiest it can be, boost your immune system, and help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (more than 5 cups a day). Most dietitians agree that a diet rich in plant foods may be healthier than a diet that contains a lot of animal products. Fruits and vegetables have lower fat content and higher fiber content compared to animal products, and most are packed with nutrients.
Here are five easy ways to add more vegetables and fruit to your diet:
- Buy a new fruit or vegetable every time you go to the grocery store. Healthy eating means you are eating a VARIETY of foods. Sure, carrots are full of vitamins, but if all you ate were carrots, you wouldn’t be healthy. Treat yourself to a nice honeydew melon. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Put some eggplant or asparagus into your cart. Many stores have instructions on how to prepare them. If yours doesn’t, ask someone in the produce section for help.
- Add chopped squash, mushrooms, onions, or carrots to jarred or fresh spaghetti sauce (serve on pasta for a great dinner). The more vegetables the merrier!
- Eat tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes — raw in salad, sandwiches, salsa, juice, alone (like a piece of fruit), or cooked in sauces. Cooking actually enhances a tomato’s nutritional value.
- Eat whole fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit reduces calories, adds fiber, and increases feelings of fullness. While dried fruit has just as much fiber as fresh fruit, the calories per serving are much higher (dried fruit also can make you gassy).
- Snack on organic baby carrots and celery (keep a cooler of them in the car if you’re running errands all day).
If you would like more information regarding reducing your risk of breast cancer, please visit www.breastcancer.or/risk/factors.