Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and 1 out of 8 will get breast cancer sometime in their life. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a great time to get educated about the disease, support the cause, and learn about lifestyle habits to live a healthy lifestyle.

What we eat is crucial to our long-term health. Here are some foods that have shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer:

Beans– Filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The high fiber content of beans may protect against breast cancer.

Berries– Contain antioxidants called flavonoids that protect against cellular damage and the development of cancer cells.

Leafy green vegetables– Contain carotenoid antioxidants that are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Fatty fish– Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are filled with omega-3, selenium, and antioxidants. Eating more fatty fish and less refined oils may help reduce breast cancer risk.

Fiber- Studies show that consuming more fiber decreases your risk of cancer and heart disease.

We should add all of these foods to our regular diet and at the same time avoid foods that increase our risk of cancer. Some of these foods are:

Sugar– Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can increase your risk for heart disease, fatty liver, and some cancers that can lead to obesity and impact brain function. You want to add more healthy foods to your diet like fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats and try to avoid refined sugars. Good nutrition can slow down or prevent the disease from spreading; and sugar actually feeds the cancer cells.

Nitrates– These are chemicals used to preserve cured sandwich meats such as bacon, salami, and, sausages.  Nitrates are harmful to the body and can even increase your risk of developing cancer. Stay away from hot dogs, sausages, and sandwich meats. Also, look out for canned beans and canned vegetables. If you are going to buy those products, buy them organic since organically grown foods are not allowed to be preserved with nitrates. Lastly, read labels and watch out for sodium or potassium nitrates and nitrites.

Having a healthy diet will reduce the risk of cancer, but it should also be accompanied by some lifestyle habits:

Maintain a healthy weight– Being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting breast cancer.

Exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week– Physically active women are 25% less likely to develop breast cancer than women who are sedentary.

Check your vitamin D levels– Women with low Vitamin D levels are at greater risk of developing breast cancer, this is because vitamin D helps kill cancer cells through a process called apoptosis.

Prevention is key! In addition to living a healthy lifestyle there is more you can do to prevent the disease and help spread awareness:

Do a regular breast self-exam– A monthly self-exam can maximize your chances of finding cancer early. Feel each breast and armpit, you want to feel all the way up to your collarbone. Take note of changes in breast size, color, lumps, nipple discharge, or tenderness. Finding changes in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer, but it is recommended you visit your doctor if you do notice changes.

Get an annual mammogram– Women should get an annual mammogram after 40, and earlier if you have breast cancer risk (this will be determined by your doctor). If you have your health insurance with MVT, you can get a free annual mammogram, so take advantage of that great benefit. Contact MVT benefits for more information.

Support the cause– To support the breast cancer awareness cause you can volunteer at a local cancer foundation, make a donation to support breast cancer research, participate in a race/walk (many are done virtually right now), and share about Breast Cancer Awareness Month on social media.

As always, I am here to help! If you want to improve your health, join Rolling Strong, the MVT wellness program designed for drivers. MVT pays for your membership, so the program is free for MVT drivers. For more information, reach out to me: