What Boomer Women Should Know About Breast Cancer

by on January 24th, 2011
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The American Cancer Society expects that 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2011, 57,650 new cases of CIS (the non-invasive form of breast cancer), and that about 39,520 women will die from breast cancer. That’s too many! What should Boomer women know about prevention?

There has been much publicity about Vitamin D of late. Now studies have shown that the mighty vitamin D can also help protect all of us Baby Boomer women against breast cancer.

I encourage every woman to check her vitamin D level regularly and keep it in the optimal range. Based upon the outdated requirements for this important vitamin, which have recently been increased, “normal” is not the same as optimal. Many of us have been told by our physician for years that our vitamin D levels are normal. It’s time to get them checked against the newer “optimal” standards.

Most docs today now recommend supplementing with 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day, as well as getting as much from your diet as you can. I know it’s hard to get all you need from food. Fatty fish like Salmon, herring, catfish and halibut are good sources, but if you don’t like fish it can be difficult to find high levels of this important vitamin in other foods.

There is another easy way to optimize our vitamin D. Make sure you are getting plenty of regular, safe, sun exposure. Believe it or not, the sun is actually the best source of vitamin D. The sun’s UVB rays help our bodies manufacture vitamin D in the fat layer under the skin. Our own body can make all the vitamin D we need from regular sun exposure. We should spend about fifteen minutes showing some skin before we put on our sunscreen; exposing the skin is good for us as long as we don’t burn.

There is also evidence that Vitamin K not only helps activate proteins that are involved in the structuring of bone mass, which is good news for all of us Baby Boomer women, but recent studies show it also has an anti-cancer effect; vitamin K has been used in the treatment of several different cancers, including breast cancer. You can get your vitamin K in swiss chard, kale, parsley and spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts, liver, soybean oil and wheat bran. Many more choices here than with vitamin D, however, supplements are also available if you’d prefer. Here’s a link to a yummy recipe with Kale.

Diet and Exercise are hugely important in preventing breast cancer. A study published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” reinforces previous findings that women with breast cancer greatly reduce their risk of recurrence by eating a healthy, plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly. This study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, tracked dietary patterns and exercise habits of nearly 1,500 women who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Researchers found that the death rate for women who consumed a high-fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and practiced good exercise habits, was 44% lower than the rate for women who exercised little and ate few plant-based foods. Almost half the risk, wow!

So, as my dear ol’gram used to say: “take your vities, eat all your veggies, and get plenty of fresh air!”

Best of Health,

Kathi


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