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How does your diet rate when it comes to breast cancer prevention?

image of healthy food choices

Contributed by Nancy Burke, R.D., Danielle Karsies, M.S., R.D., and Melissa Shannon-Hagen, R.D., CSO, U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program

Are you looking to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer or preventing a recurrence? If so, taking a good look at how and what you eat can be the key. Here are some questions to consider in putting together your own game plan.

Is your body mass index, or BMI, between 21 and 25?

If you answered yes, then you are off to a great start! Probably the most important goal in the prevention of breast cancer or recurrence is to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, which is defined as a BMI between 21 and 24.9. If your BMI is greater than 25, follow a healthy diet that focuses on regular meals consisting of half your plate containing fruits and vegetables, one-fourth containing lean protein and another one-fourth containing whole grains. Adding in daily exercise, even just 30 minutes of walking, can further help you reach your weight goal and prevent breast cancer.

Are you eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day?

Research has shown a strong relationship between high intakes of fruit and vegetables (at least five servings per day) with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, choosing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure that your body is getting the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that have anti-cancer properties.

Are you limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats?

These fats have pro-inflammatory properties that have been linked to an increased risk of a variety of diseases, including cancer. Trans fats are found in small amounts in foods of animal origin (meat, poultry, eggs and dairy) and many processed foods such as crackers, cakes and cookies. Instead, focus on healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olive or canola oil, avocado and fatty fish.

Are you eating the recommended amount of dietary fiber?

Fiber-rich foods help you to feel full and satisfied, which can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, fiber-rich foods keep your digestive track healthy and help with blood glucose control. Strive to include 25-35 grams of fiber daily.

Are you drinking more than 1 ounce of liquor, 12-ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine daily?

Although research for cardiovascular disease shows some benefit from drinking limited alcohol, the evidence is mixed when it comes to breast cancer. Abstinence might be better than limited alcohol intake when it comes to breast cancer, especially if you are estrogen receptor positive or on Tamoxifen.

Using these guidelines as your game plan can help you prevent breast cancer!

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