Shinichiro Teranishi writes:
Mrs. Yuki Masuda is a postmenopausal
48-year-old native Japanese housewife who has recently returned to Japan
after living in Canada for almost 20 years. Mrs. Masuda is approximately
15 kilos overweight. She is a somewhat worried about developing breast
cancer later in life. Many of her friends in North America have had relatives
or acquaintances who have had breast cancer, but she is not sure whether
she should be overconcerned since she understands that fewer Asian women
develop this disease than women in the West.
You say, I just want you to tell me what I can do so I don't get cancer. So, I will advise you about what you can do so you reduce risks for cancer. First, I will tell you the basic risk factors for your developing breast cancer. Then, I will explain the links between lifestyle choices like diet and health problems like breast cancer. Perhaps You will find what you should do so you don't get cancer and the importance of diet. And you will find you must pay more attention to your own health and lifestyle.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Genetic, environmental, and gene-environment interactions are now considered as key elements in breast cancer etiology. Women who eat diets rich in animal foods reach menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation) earlier, thereby producing more estrogen over their lifetimes and developing breast cancer at a significantly higher rate. In other words, low-fat, high-fiber diets are linked with lower levels of female hormones and a lower risk for breast cancer. But all fats are not a problem. Certain kinds of fat, such as olive oil, may actually be protective. The best established dietary risk factor is alcohol intake, which appears to increase risk for breast cancer even among moderate drinkers. Also, weight gain in adulthood may be a risk factor for breast cancer. I have discovered that you are a moderate drinker, you eat quite a bit of beef and pork (these are high-fat containing foods), you cook a lot of your food using sweet coconut oil or margarine, you dislike most vegetables and you prefer to eat Western-style desserts like rich cakes and ice cream. In addition, you are approximately 15 kilos overweight. These conditions indicate that you are now at risk of developing breast cancer. I think you need to improve these conditions not to get cancer.
For years, researchers had theorized that a high-fat diet was associated with breast cancer, in part because they knew that Asian women, who generally eat a diet much lower in fat than do Western women, have far lower rates of breast cancer. But fat may be a small part of that equation; other factors such as heredity, fewer environmental toxins, and even a high soybean intake may have a greater effect on keeping breast cancer rates low in Asian women.
But some research has shown that when women move from a country with a low incidence of breast cancer, such as Japan, to a country with a high incidence, such as the United States, their breast-cancer risk goes up. Because Japanese women consume lower-fat diets than do U.S. women, researchers have hypothesized that a fat-rich diet is the cause behind the rise in cancer risk. Also the influence of a diet containing soy protein has been researched with regard to certain health benefits. Women's intake of soy protein is potentially beneficial with respect to risk factors for breast cancer and may in part explain the low incidence of breast cancer and its correlation with a high soy intake among Japanese and Chinese women. I hear that you are not sure whether you should be overconcerned since you know that fewer Asian women develop this disease than women in the West. But, your lifestyle considered, I conclude that your risk of having breast cancer is not low, but very high. Mammograms and other laboratory tests indicate that you are cancer-free, but your LDL-level is above normal. So, in addition to being overweight, tests indicate that you have consumed too many of the wrong kinds of food.
Finally, I will show you general dietary guidelines. A low fat diet is widely recommended. Fat is likely the culprit with the epidemic proportions of breast, colon and prostate cancer. The incidence of these cancers and others is decreased in cultures eating a low fat, high fiber diet. In a vegetarian type diet the incidence of cancer in general is markedly decreased.
Even in women already having a diagnosis of breast cancer, obesity is an adverse prognostic factor, that is, women who are overweight do not respond as well as do women of normal weight. When you are in the market read the labels regarding fat content. Strive for the lowest fat diet you can reach. Animal meat consumption should be avoided as much as possible. Fish, turkey and chicken should be your source of non-vegetable protein. The majority of medical articles now suggest that we eat complex carbohydrates -- starches that require digestion to break them down to simpler carbohydrates and eventually sugars. Simple sugars should be avoided. Their consumption results in jumps in blood sugar with the body reacting with insulin production and frequently hypoglycemia. Eating complex carbohydrates avoids this. Coarse-grained breads, whole wheat and bran cereals, raw or lightly steamed vegetables, fresh fruits are all in this class of complex carbohydrates.
In conclusion, below is what you should change for your healthy life without risk of having breast cancer.
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages, if you drink at all.
- Cut down on total fat intake.
- Eat a varied diet. Don't eliminate certain foods.
- Include a variety of vegetables and fruits in the daily diet.
- Eat more high-fiber foods such as whole grain cereals, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.
On the above, the most important thing is that you should make changes gradually. Just as there are no "super foods" or easy answers to a healthy diet, don't expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Changing too much, too fast can get in the way of success. Begin to remedy excesses or deficiencies with modest changes that can add up to positive, lifelong eating habits. For instance, if you don't like the taste of skim milk, try low-fat. Eventually you may find you like skim, too.
- Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you're very hungry, it's also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don't eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal. You tell me that you try to diet, you try to skip eating breakfast. You say, but after a few days of dieting like this, I have to have something sweet and delicious. This shows you have the wrong idea. Skipping meals is not the right way to diet.
- Maintain a desirable body weight. Maintain a healthy weight. The weight that's right for you depends on many factors including your sex, height, age and heredity. Excess body fat increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses. If you're constantly losing and regaining weight, a registered dietitian can help you develop sensible eating habits for successful weight management. Regular exercise is also important to maintaining a healthy weight.
In addition, several animal studies have already suggested that exercise may help to reduce risk for cancer. So, I recommend you to do fast walking for about 30-60 minutes. I think fast walking is one of the better ways for maintaining our good health. Because exercising burns body fats and cholesterol level lower.
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