The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Easy steps to reduce your risk of breast cancer

Tuesday, 8 October 2019, 11:15 Last update: about 7 days ago

Sarah Cardona

Making positive changes to diet and lifestyle need not be a big challenge or expense.

Changes made through small steps, taken one at a time, are achievable.

Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has an influence on breast cancer and its reoccurrence. The Western diet, on the other hand, which is rich in dairy, processed foods, including meat, and refined sugars could play a role in the development of breast cancer and other diseases.


We are lucky enough to have an abundance of local seasonal fruits and vegetables available at our doorstep that we can use to create healthy meals which are affordable.

The Mediterranean diet comprises of seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, legumes, some whole grains, nuts and seeds and minimal meat and dairy consumption. This diet can supply you with a good balance of fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help prevent and fight disease.

You can increase your intake of vegetables by making your own tomato sauce and using fresh herbs rather than tinned sauces with wholegrain pasta or vegetable spaghetti made with a simple vegetable/ julienne dual peeler.

Soups provide another way of enjoying vegetables. Adding legumes to a soup can make it more filling. Juicing vegetables with an apple can give you part of your 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as now recommended by the Imperial College of London.

Replacing all fats with extra virgin olive oil, using minimal amounts of meat to flavour soups or stews and increasing the use of legumes is an affordable change that makes your meals more satisfying and nutritious. We have plenty of seasonal vegetables and fruits that can give us the nutrition we need.

We need to find the time to create meals for the family; we cannot avoid illness if we do not feed our body the nutrients it needs. Our immune system needs constant boosting to prevent cancers and disease.

Lifestyles too can be tweaked. Household cleaning agents, for example, that have harmful antimicrobial compounds, such as triclosan, that are linked to breast cancer, can be avoided. You can find alternatives on the internet or learn how to make your own using natural products and essential oils. Washing your fruits and vegetables in a bowl with a little white vinegar will remove any impurities, making them safer to eat for you and your children.

Reducing alcohol and taking some exercise every day is also doable. Going for a walk is sufficient, you don’t need to join a gym if you don’t have the time or funds!

Personal care products and makeup can contain many endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including triclosan, parabens, aluminium, phthalates, parfum  and Bisphenol A (BPA), to name just a few, that may be linked to breast cancer so reducing their use and switching to more natural brands can reduce your risks. You may look into exchanging your shower gel for a natural soap bar, for example .

There are many factors that are out of our control, for example, environmental pollution, but if we each make small changes I believe we can make a difference to our health and home environment.

As with all disease, we can treat the symptoms but without looking into the root cause we will not avoid all the outcomes.

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