Breast Cancer Awareness Month May Be Over, But Breast Cancer Isn’t

Breast Cancer.  It’s a word most of us don’t spend too much time pondering about.  After all, we are busy college students with plenty of other things on our minds and problems to address.  Problems that seem significant or monumental as they occur in our little bubble world of college. Problems like:

“Oh my god, I just gained five pounds.”
“Shoot, I shouldn’t have had that extra slice of pizza last night.”
“Ugh I didn’t make the lacrosse team.”
“Grad school applications need to be in by next week? I am so screwed.”

Thoughts such as these are more of the day-to-day troubles on our minds. But breast cancer? No, not breast cancer.  Unless someone in our family is diagnosed with the disease, why should we think about such an awful, somewhat unthinkable possibility, which is so far removed from our current existence?

Well, I propose we change this lack of breast cancer contemplation. And I have good reasons for it.

Given the explosion of childhood obesity seen in our generation, health experts across the board are predicting crisis proportions of heart disease, diabetes, and you guessed it, breast cancer.  And seeing that we just rounded out National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think it’s important to point out that the breast cancer Grim Reaper is going to plague our generation unless we take a proactive approach to keeping ourselves healthy and motivating our loved ones to do the same.

Most of my friends think that being diagnosed with breast cancer is all about being dealt an unlucky hand.  They think that no changes they make in their lifestyle will increase or decrease their odds of getting a cancer diagnosis later in life.  However, it’s so important for you all to know that this could not be farther from the truth!  Actually, lifestyle changes can be powerful prevention tools. Very powerful.  Like Superman saving Metropolis from destruction kind of powerful.  Yup, you can be your own Superman saving your own Metropolis (your body) from Lex Luthor (breast cancer).  Except this isn’t science fiction and I really am never going to meet Tom Wellings (star of Superman on the CW). Sigh.

Anyway, studies across the board show that what we eat and how much we weigh are significant contributors to whether or not we will get breast cancer.  No joke. Early studies on breast cancer found wide international variations in disease rates.  Due to such variable breast cancer incidences among countries all over the world, scientists began to wonder if diet was playing a role in the variability.  This question resulted in further studies on breast cancer, studies which have confirmed this hypothesis.

Turns out obesity is a significant risk factor for breast cancer:

* Gaining one pound per year during adulthood can double breast cancer risk after menopause.
* Obesity alone is thought to be responsible for 17% of breast cancers.
*  Countries with higher incidences of obesity, increased soft drink consumption and excessive animal protein consumption among it’s citizens have much higher rates of breast cancer than those that don’t.
* Greater consumption of vegetables during high school and college has been associated with a decreased risk of break cancer and high glycemic index foods, like white flour products and processed foods, has been associated with increased risk.

New research is showing  the strong protective effects of natural foods against breast cancer. For instance, mushrooms have anti-estrogenic activity and regular mushroom consumption is associated with a sixty percent decrease in cancer risk. Sixty percent!  Leafy green vegetables, like kale, bok choy, watercress and spinach, as well as other green vegetables, like broccoli, contain compounds shown to inhibit cancer cell growth. Cancer of all kinds!

So, in addition to wearing a pink ribbon and giving yourself monthly breast self-exams, eat plenty of vegetables, onions and mushrooms, reduce (or eliminate!) your animal product and processed foods intake, and keep on exercising and you can be your own breast cancer Superwoman.

One Month Challenge: Gymvember, Week One
One Month Challenge: Gymvember, Week One
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