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Three Tips for Reducing Your Breast Cancer Risk: Get FIT

by Carole Carson


Fighting Cancer

One out of every eight women in the United States will face breast cancer, despite medical advances. Early detection, for example, using tomosynthesis, an innovative technology that provides three-dimensional detailed imaging of the breast, and effective treatments have improved the survival rate of breast cancer patients. In fact, when breast cancer is detected early and confined to the breast, the five-year survival rate is 97 percent.

This remarkable progress has shifted the focus of breast cancer research to prevention. Only 5 to 10 percent of cases can be blamed on genetics; the majority appear to be linked to environmental causes and personal lifestyle choices.

Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder of, reports that “significant evidence links excess weight with a higher risk of breast cancer—both for a first diagnosis and for recurrence.” Maintaining a fit body through healthful eating and regular exercise could eliminate almost 40 percent or 70,000 cases of breast cancer each year.

To minimize your breast cancer risk, focus on fitness during October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM.) Here are three tips for getting FIT:

F = Find healthy foods that you enjoy eating. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein will nourish your body without expanding your waistline. Explore healthier ways of preparing food and find fabulous lower-calorie recipes online. Limit alcohol consumption (one drink a day for women) because of its association with breast cancer.

I = Integrate regular exercise into your life. Spending 60 minutes exercising each day is the best investment you can make in your health. Individualize your routine: find an activity you thoroughly enjoy that is appropriate for your age, medical condition and schedule. For example, if you dislike jogging on a treadmill at the gym, you could rent exercise videos or purchase a Wii exergame.

T = Team up with friends, colleagues, neighbors and family to create a fitness-oriented community. Write a fitness team newsletter and report on your program. Join a free online support community. By giving and receiving support, you reaffirm your own commitment to fitness.

Adopting healthful habits not only reduces the risk of breast cancer, it also helps prevent other life-threatening conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and improves the chances of survival for breast cancer patients.

While you’re taking charge of your health, check your local community calendar for NBCAM events and programs, including free or discounted mammography examinations on October 21, 2011, National Mammography Day. You can also find a list of organizations offering low-cost mammograms online. And when you make your appointment, see if you can persuade your girlfriend to join you.

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