By: Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
I'm Dr. Alaina Gair, Naturopathic Doctor. I am passionate about helping women understand and optimize their breast (and overall) health! According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. An estimated 26,300 Canadian women and 230 men will be diagnosed this year. That’s 72 women every day. Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I felt this was the perfect time to share some quick tips that you can put into action today!
I created this blog to help you have:
• A clear understanding of what risks are within your control
• Simple strategies for optimizing breast health
• Peace of mind knowing that you are doing what you can to stay healthy
Let’s get started!
Did you know that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are carcinogenic?
You can limit your exposure by investing in organic produce when picking foods that have the highest pesticide content.
For 2017, here are the fruits and vegetables that were found to be highest in pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group:
• Sweet bell peppers
Fruit and Vegetables
Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit has been linked to decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit, 4-6 servings of vegetables and 7 or more servings of other plant foods like whole grains, beans, peas and roots.
Eat a rainbow - variety is important!
Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the blood, thereby decreasing risk for breast cancer. Colourful berries contain ellagic acid – a compound that actually blocks the growth of cancer cells. Members of the cabbage family contain indole-3-carbinol – an important ingredient for managing estrogen in the body.
Filtering your tap water can also help to maintain healthy breasts. Chlorine has been suggested as a cause of 1-2% of cancers in Canada and a simple Brita filter will remove 99% of this chemical!
Pump Up Protein
For protein, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish. These contain healthy fats – omega 3 and 9. Ideally these should be free-range, organic or wild caught. Red meat isn’t totally off the table when it comes to reducing risk for breast health. BUT, it’s quite important to buy grass-fed, organic beef. Red meat animals are particularly good at concentrating pesticides and herbicides from their feed. This is stored in the saturated fat in the meat we consume.
I’m sure most of you already know that keeping sugar to a minimum is beneficial for your health. Diets high in processed foods dump sugar into the blood stream following a meal. The liver responds by releasing insulin-like growth factors which makes cells double and are major stimulators for cancer growth and spread.
Lift Your Lifestyle
Try a few different activities and then pick one you really enjoy and can stick with! The best outcomes for breast cancer prevention are seen with 60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, but benefits are seen with just 30 minutes of brisk walking daily. This simple strategy decreases risk of developing breast cancer by 18%!
Women's bodies process alcohol differently than men's, and therefore women should keep consumption to a minimum – no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. Research demonstrates that daily consumption of 2-3 drinks results in an increased risk of breast cancer of 43%.
Chemicals at Home
Try making your own cleaners and stick to personal care products that don’t contain parabens, phthalates or sulfates. These chemicals build up in fat tissue (including the breasts) and have been shown to be carcinogenic. Chemical-free products are available at health food stores and your skin will thank you for investing in healthier options! One product that really goes a long way is castile soap. Use it as body wash, all purpose cleaner or laundry detergent.
All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
1 cup distilled water
15 drops essential oil –
(Pick your favorites, I use peppermint, lemon and lavender)
1/2 tbsp. castile soap
This makes an effective, non-toxic cleaner for your home. Remember, if it's not biodegradable, it's probably degrading you. If it's harmful to the environment, it's harmful to you!
Stress management, like exercise, comes in many forms. It is important you to pick a system that resonates with you, that brings you peace, and that is something you could stick with every day.
We can predict cancer risk by assessing whether a person skips breakfast, eats between meals and has irregular hours of sleep. The extent to which this impacts development of cancer remains unknown, but there is no question that factor represents a level of chaos in daily life. Chaos adds stress physically and mentally, so it is important not to allow this into your life.
Consider some of the options below, try them out and then commit to a practice that brings you peace.
Some Stress Management Techniques
Guided meditation - there are many apps available to help you develop meditation as a skill. Consider trying out Buddhify (an app). This product has guided meditations to bring mindfulness to almost any daily activity.
Other activities include:
• Diaphragmatic breathing
• Bubble bath
• Walking in nature
• Spa day
• Make up your own!
Some people need more help with developing a stress management practice - be patient with yourself! This takes time to become routine.
I hope you have found some helpful information that you can put into action and start optimizing your health and wellness today!
Yours in Breast Health,
Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
* Please remember, this blog does not constitute medical advice and does not act as substitution for seeing a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor to discuss your health.
If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. gair to discuss Breast Health, or any other health concerns please click on this link: