Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Help Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Tips for Fighting Cancer with Nutrition

This list of good nutrition habits can be your key to staying healthy!

Try this 1-day meal plan, packed with antioxidants and fiber, which can help protect your health.

This month, we're thinking pink as we raise awareness about breast cancer and steps you can take to prevent it. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and there are several lifestyle and nutrition habits that can help you reduce your risk.

It's estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. However with new technology and better ways of detecting the disease, breast cancer incidence rates decreased about 2 percent per year from 1999 to 2005. While each individual may have additional risk factors, these lifestyle and nutrition tips can provide benefits in the fight against cancer.

Get checked

Preventive screenings can help identify breast cancer in its early, and most treatable, stages. Mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer, although women should also perform self-examinations monthly. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi's Healthy You! wellness benefit provides coverage for annual mammograms for women ages 35 and older. To learn more about the covered screenings, click here to download a copy of the Healthy You! Wellness Guide.

Maintain a healthy weight

Research shows that a healthy weight is important to reducing your risk of breast cancer. One study found that obese women (BMI of over 30) had a 31 percent greater risk of developing the disease. Excess weight can lead to a higher level of estrogen, which can increase risk. Aim for a healthy Body Mass Index between 18.6-24.9. You can use this BMI Chart to find your BMI.

Exercise regularly

Exercise can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, and if you've already been diagnosed, can reduce the risk of recurrence. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which reduces your risk.

Fight back with food

Good nutrition can be your secret weapon to be healthy and reduce your risk of developing many types of cancers, including breast cancer. Start by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 servings per day). You should also include at least 25-30g of fiber in your diet, including whole grains, beans, potatoes, spinach and berries. Some vegetables are especially high in cancer-fighting antioxidants, including the cruciferous variety like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Try these cancer-fighting recipes featuring seasonal antioxidant-rich ingredients like cranberries, pumpkin and fresh peas.

Reduce your consumption of dietary fat

Try to limit your total fat intake to 30 percent or less (for a 2,000 calorie a day diet, that would be 60 grams of fat per day). Saturated fats found in some meats and high fat dairy can also increase your risk. Instead, replace these fats with the unsaturated variety like avocados, nuts and seeds, olive and canola oil. These are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can provide a boost to your overall health.

Limit processed meat and red meat

Processed meats, like deli meat, hot dogs and bacon often contain the preservative sodium nitrate, which has been linked to cancer. Hormel is one brand offering natural alternatives to processed meats, which often contain sodium nitrate. If you're not sure, read the list of ingredients and look for words like "nitrate." Also, red meat has a higher fat content, which increases risk.

Limit alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can raise estrogen levels while decreasing the effectiveness of other vitamins, like folic acid, which has been linked to cancer prevention. To be safe, stick to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations of no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two for men.

To learn more about breast cancer prevention and detection, visit the American Cancer Society.

Health Information
Health & Wellness Articles
Health & Wellness Programs
Health & Wellness Resources