Did you know breast or ovarian cancer can be inherited? In fact, there are 500,000 women in the U.S who carry a gene mutation that puts them at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC).
"All cancer involves changes in genes called mutations. However, in most people, these changes occur after birth, usually later in life and only in a limited number of the body's cells. Hereditary cancer refers to cancer that is caused by a mutation that is present at birth and in all cells of the body. This gene change makes individuals more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime but doesn't mean they will definitely develop the disease. Certain cancers, including those of the breast, ovary, and colon, are more likely than others to be hereditary."
Some hereditary mutations or gene changes linked to breast cancer have already been identified. The two most common are BRCA1 and BRCA2 (for breast cancer 1 and breast cancer 2). Blood tests are now available to determine if someone carries one or both of these two gene changes.
If you have a mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer, get tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. While there may not much you can do on your genetic history, there are a few things you can change to your lifestyle.
* Eat raw walnuts. Walnuts contain compounds that reduce the risk of breast cancer. Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well.
* Keep your weight in check. A study of cancer among overweight people in Europe showed the proportion of new cases of the disease caused by people being fat was highest in women. The most common cancers linked to excess body weight were endometrial, breast and colorectal cancers. Getting in daily exercise can also protect and reduce your risk for cancer.
* Diet tied to survival in breast cancer patients. A study published in the December 2008 Journal of Clinical Oncology found women with the highest intakes of healthier foods were about half as likely to die during the study period as women with the lowest intakes, even with other important factors taken into account -- like the initial size of the breast tumor, the treatment type and patients' smoking habits.
* Herbs and spices fight off cancer compounds. Several herbs and spices have been compared to effective cancer-fighting drugs. Be sure to add these six herbs to your diet: tumeric, ginger, cinnamon, labiates which include mint, thyme, marjoram, oregano and basil, apiums include parsley and celery root, and alliums include garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives.
* Breastfeeding cuts breast cancer in high risk women by fifty nine percent. The new study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, used information from 60,075 participants in the second Harvard Nurses' Health Study. If your mother has breast cancer, you may want to consider the benefits of breastfeeding. Certain types of breast cancer may be rarer among women who breastfeed their babies for at least six months.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, doing these few simple steps towards a healthier lifestyle can help decrease your chances later in life.
Jasmine Jafferali, MPH, is the Program Coordinator and an instructor for Educational Fitness Solutions, Inc., Professional Certificate in Women's Personal Exercise Training and Wellness. She has a diverse fitness background with over ten years of industry experience in campus recreation, corporate wellness, and the commercial health club setting. To learn more about her program, visit: http://www.efslibrary.net