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Healthy diet, exercise can help reduce risk of cancer

HEATHER BREWSTER ETSU Dietetic Intern and 
ELIZABETH HALL, MS, RDN, LDN Food City Registered Dietitian • Oct 3, 2018 at 4:30 PM

It’s October, and that means it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Excluding skin cancer, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other form. The American Cancer Society estimates that 41,400 deaths (40,920 women and 480 men) will occur from breast cancer this year.

We know a number of factors such as genetics and hormones can increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer, but there are factors that can help prevent breast cancer as well.

Studies continue to show that there is a link between nutrition and physical activity and cancer prevention, progression or reoccurrence. To reduce your risk of developing cancer, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, and eat a healthy diet.

Weight management and maintenance is important to reduce cancer risk. Women who are overweight or obese, particularly after menopause, have a greater risk for developing hormone-related cancers, including breast cancer. Physical activity and a healthy diet not only help with cancer prevention, but can also assist with weight loss. A good starting point for physical activity is to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days throughout the week. Moderate activity includes dancing, brisk walking and bicycling. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

When it comes to diet, studies show that plant foods contain thousands of phytonutrients that may have cancer-fighting benefits. Therefore, eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, as well as whole grains may help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. A good rule of thumb is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables and half of your grains whole grains. Swapping red meat for more fish and seafood can also reduce risk. Other recommendations include drinking plenty of water and limiting sugar-sweetened and alcoholic beverages.

The keys to cancer prevention are to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced, healthy diet, and be physically active regularly. This October, celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month by focusing on actionable goals to reduce your risk of cancer and promote your health.

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