By Marcus Stout
Women today are more concerned than ever about preventing breast cancer. There is much speculation about how our lifestyle and habits affect our chances of contracting this and other cancers. Well, there are many risk factors that can make you more prone to breast cancer, but there are also things you can do to prevent breast cancer.
First, it’s important to have a healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods and eating a diet that is low in saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables and fish. These foods can keep your weight in check and protect your health by providing vitamins and fiber.
In addition to these foods being healthy and fiber rich, they also provide significant ant-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are extremely important to slowing down the aging process and preventing disease.
Each day as our body converts food to energy, it creates oxygen carrying molecules called free radicals. If free radicals are not eliminated from the body, they damage our cells and our DNA. This cell damage is partially responsible for a multitude of diseases, including cancer.
Anti-oxidants are important because they rid the body of free radicals. Since free radicals are created daily, they should be eliminated daily, too. But, because our diets have become so laden with processed food, many of us don’t consume enough anti-oxidants each day.
So, protecting our health means we have to make changes in our lifestyle. Watching what we eat and drink can put us in the best position to combat aging as it creeps up on us.
While you’re taking stock of what’s in your pantry, don’t forget to include looking at what you drink. You need a good dose of anti-oxidants each day, and many of us just don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables to get our daily requirement.
Well, it turns out that drinking tea and coffee can be a great way to increase your anti-oxidants and improve your health- particularly your resistance to breast cancer. There have been many studies that have reported the benefits of green tea, but one recent study suggested that there may be benefits to drinking black tea and coffee, too.
The study I’m referring to was conducted at the Gifu School of Medicine in Japan. The study was conducted on pre-menopausal women. This study looked at the hormone level of 50 Japanese women during different days of their menstrual cycle.
They found that in women who consumed tea, coffee and even caffeinated cola had a higher level of the sex hormone binding globulin on critical days of their cycle than the women who did not consume these beverages.
Why Is This Important?
The level of binding globulin is important because low levels of this hormone in pre-menopausal women have been associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. So, it appears that drinking your daily intake of caffeine may help your body produce a higher level of binding globulin and help protect you from breast cancer.
Which of These Beverages Should I Drink?
In this particular study, researchers found no difference in the binding globulin level between those who drank coffee, tea or even cola. It seemed to be the consumption of caffeinated beverages of any kind that caused the level of binding globulin to rise.
However, many other studies have shown that in addition to having caffeine, green tea has many other health protecting qualities, as well. Remember how important we just said that anti-oxidants are to our diet?
Well, it just so happens that green tea has an extraordinary level of very potent anti-oxidants. Black tea and coffee have anti-oxidants, too; but nothing to compare to the level and potency you’ll find in green tea. (Cola, by the way, does not contain anti-oxidants.)
Though green and black tea both come from the camellia sinensis plant, green tea is healthier because of the way it’s processed. Black tea is fermented, which changes the structure of the anti-oxidants, making them less effective and potent. Green tea is not fermented (nor is white), so it retains anti-oxidants in their most natural and potent state.
And, for those of you who might be sensitive to caffeine; you’ll be happy to know that green tea has less caffeine than coffee or black tea. But, clearly it has enough caffeine to increase your level of binding globulin sufficiently.
Remember, the study cited above showed no difference between green tea drinkers and other caffeinated beverage drinkers in terms of the level of binding globulin.
Making Changes You Can Continue
So, if you’re interested in reducing your breast cancer risk, you need to make some changes to your lifestyle to help protect your health. Watch your diet; be sure you’re getting the recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
You should also be sure to add some sort of caffeinated beverage to your diet, if you’re not already drinking some. And, to boost both your anti-oxidants and get your caffeine at the same time, make that beverage green tea.
Make lifestyle changes that you can commit to- otherwise you’ll be unlikely to keep up with them. It might not be realistic for you to say that you’re going to immediately increase your intake of vegetables from none each day to five servings.
But, if you can consistently eat two servings each day, then you’ve still made an improvement. And, perhaps later you can work up to five servings.
Small changes over time are the best way to ensure that you’ll continue your new healthy habits. Reduce your number of processed foods and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and green tea slowly over time. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed and be tempted to quit.
Smoking can also increase your risk for cancer. We all know that smoking makes us likely candidates for lung cancer, but what many people don’t know is that smoking increases your overall risk for cancer. Smoke is toxic to your body, and can increase your risk of any cancer, including breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the US. This year, over 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and over 40,000 will die from it. It pays to understand how to protect your health and reduce your risk of contracting this disease.