Natural Tips from Naturopath Gemma Hurditch

Here are some key natural health tips to help keep in check our chances of developing breast cancer.

Watch your weight

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. Maintaining a sensible weight is protective against many forms of cancer. Intermittent fasting or the 5:2 diet is a good way to lose excess weight and keep it off. Nightly fasting of 13 hours without food, or longer, also appears to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence.

Cruciferous vegetables

Compounds found in members of the cruciferous vegetable family such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and turnips, contain anti-cancer properties which are currently under investigation for breast cancer therapy. Keep cooking times to a minimum, preferring to steam or eat them raw. Aim to eat 2-3 cups daily in addition to other fresh fruit and veg, and chew well to release the bioactive compounds.

Iodine

There are links between low iodine intake, poor thyroid health and breast cancer.  Japanese women who eat seaweed daily (rich in natural iodine) have lower rates of both diseases. Low iodine levels in breast tissue is associated with breast disease; it is worthwhile adding a teaspoon of seaweed or sea vegetables to your daily diet for health promotion.

Reduce alcohol

Drinking alcohol is associated with increased risk of various cancers, including breast. To minimise risk, no more than 1 standard drink is advised daily.  Alcohol free nights also confer benefits. Risk increases with alcohol consumption in breast cancer, so try tart cherry juice or reduce intake by mixing your tipple with soda water.

Exercise and daylight

They’re beneficial to overall health and recommended for both breast cancer survivors and as a preventative measure. Aim for 40 minutes brisk walking five days a week, with some higher intensity sessions if you can. More physically active women and those with higher levels of vitamin D, which is made by the action of sunlight on skin, have lower rates of various cancers, including that of breast, uterus and colon.

Reduce toxic load

Opt for a predominantly plant-based organic diet. Avoid processed foods, and cook from scratch. This helps reduce intake of potentially toxic residues from pesticides, additives and packaging. Look for organic personal care products with only natural ingredients.

Self-examination

Checking regularly for any lumps, bumps or irregularities in breast tissue or the nipple can alert you to any potential problems. Checking at the same time in your cycle, about 5 days after your cycle starts is usually best.

By Naturopath and CNM lecturer Gemma Hurditch.

You can also find out more about eating to look after your health, by attending CNM’s Nutrition for Everyday Living Short Course in Dublin.