Breast cancer is the most common cancer among pregnant and postpartum women and is found in about one in 3,000 pregnant women — the official term is pregnancy-associated breast cancer (PABC).
My cancer story
For National Nutrition Month, I am sharing my story. About a year after the birth of my second son, I heard those three dreaded words, “you have cancer.” A breast cancer diagnosis was not something I ever thought could happen to me — I have no family history, try to live a healthy lifestyle and was fairly young. But, come to find out, in 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40, the disease is associated with pregnancy.
With more women becoming pregnant later in life (I was 35 at the birth of my first son), researchers are predicting PABC will continually rise. The theory is that pregnancy-related hormones might stimulate the growth of cells that have already undergone malignant transformation. Basically, this type of cancer is completely hormone-related. Hormones can be controlled by your diet, certain foods can totally throw off the balance of your hormones, or in fact, produce MORE cancer-fueling hormones.
The good news is that new moms can reduce their breast cancer risks through good nutritional choices.
Here are some tips:
Quit the Sugar
I really think that sugar consumption is an epidemic. The more I read and learn about the health dangers, the scarier it becomes. Sugar is directly linked to insulin, which in turn creates more cancer-loving hormones. If you have any inkling of cancer forming in your body, sugar is basically a fuel that stimulates growth.
Cut back on the alcohol
A woman drinking two glasses of wine a day has an 8 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer. The reason? Because alcohol converts to sugar (see above) and can damage cells prevent them from repairing themselves. The American Cancer Society recommends women limit their intake to one drink per day.
Eat more green
More and more studies are showing the amazing health benefits of a colorful diet. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, radishes, brussel sprouts, and others contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that have shown anti cancer effects. Not only that, but adding more fresh food into your diet, is good for maintaining a healthy weight (another way to reduce your risk).
Add more fiber
Fiber plays a key role in keeping your digestive system healthy and can be found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Green tea, vitamin D, fish oil, garlic and calcium can all help assist your body in the cancer fighting war and breast cancer prevention. Each of these supplements bring a backup of supportive nutrition that may be lacking in a regular “American diet.”
It can be hard, as a busy mom, to make big dietary changes. I have aimed to take it one step at a time by taking everything (ahem, wine and cake) in moderation and by adding on more and more greens. I have been experimenting with different preparation methods and it’s been a fun exploration of food.
I hope you’ll be inspired to think about your nutritional choices and make the decision to be a cancer fighter, too!
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