Bring it to Barb

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Dear Barb,

At 50 years old I can’t help but think about breast cancer since so many of my friends have died from it. Are there specific things that absolutely produce a higher prevalence of breast cancer? 

Signed,

Scared

Dear Scared,

You’re not powerless here. There is actually a lot you can do to pare down or even slash your risk of developing breast cancer, colon cancer, and more. In fact, more than 40 percent of malignancies are preventable, says the American Cancer Society.

“Vitamin D is very important in cancer prevention,” says Jonathan Stegall, M.D., medical director at The Center for Advanced Medicine. Our bodies make vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, and it’s also found in some foods, such as seafood, milk, and eggs. Still, many people need more. Living in Washington State can create a deficiency in Vitamin D. Ask your doctor if a supplement makes sense since 41 percent of adults are D deficient. 

Skip the second or third beer! Current breast cancer reports found a 30 to 50 percent increase in risk with one to two drinks daily. “The cancer-promoting mechanism of alcohol seems to create inflammation, as well as its ability to increase estrogen levels,” according to Dr. Stegal. “It spurs tumor growth.” Limit yourself to no more than two alcoholic beverages a day if you are a man and only one if you are a woman.

Limit shift work and long-term exposure to artificial lighting, which suppresses melatonin production and disrupts normal circadian rhythms. By the way, sunshine helps your body produce melatonin to create good sleep. A 2017 study in the journal Cancer Medicine found that women who did shift work had an increase of breast cancer risk. 

Charred or well-done meat collects more carcinogens than rare or less well-done cuts. Here is a little trick: marinating your steaks for an hour in oil, vinegar, and spices will slash the production of these chemicals by more than half.

Lastly, scientists note that cancer cells have a voracious and insatiable appetite for sugar. 

So basically, too much of alcohol, processed meats, red meats and not getting enough fruits and vegetables, as well as lack of regular physical activity outdoors, are the most important lifestyle choices you can make.

All of these are under our control with the exception of our environmental causes that are out of our control many times. 

Cancer is very scary; we all have lost many wonderful friends to cancer. We must take charge of our lifestyle and choices. You pay attention to what you care about and what you care about, you always pay attention to. 

Rock is a mental health counselor and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at BarbRockrocks@yahoo.com.

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