October is breast cancer awareness month

Tips to reduce your risk:

The incidence of breast cancer is rapidly increasing globally. However, Western Europe has the highest rates with around 332,670 newly diagnosed cases in 2008 (Cancer Research UK).

Dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors have all been blamed for the observed increased rates of breast cancer, however a clear link has not been found.

Early diagnosis is critical and taking preventative measures by adopting a healthy lifestyle, diet and performing regular self- assessment is certainly a step in the right direction.

Tips for reducing risk of developing breast cancer include:

• Maintain a healthy weight – aim for a body mass index (BMI) of between 19-24 for women.

• Eat plenty of plant-based foods such as fruits and

vegetables – the intake of lignins from fruits and

vegetables and isoflavones (from soya beans and legumes) have been linked to a lowered risk for developing breast cancer.

• Reduce saturated fat intake – from animal products

• Reduce salt and sugar intake – especially from processed, cured and pickled food.

• Limit alcohol intake – limit your intake to two to three units per day or a maximum of 14 units per week and have some alcohol free days.

Nutrigenomics is the study of the effect of food or bioactive food molecules on our genes. Promising studies have indicated that women carrying specific genetic variants of the breast cancer gene may be more responsive to the cancer-reducing effects of catechins in green tea and genistein in soya but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before we can offer purely personalised advice.

Mariëtte Abrahams is a Dietitian with over 10 years experience within the NHS and in the Medical Nutrition industry. She runs a nutrition and wellness clinic at Quinta do Lago Family Medical Centre and Vale do Lobo Spa.

For more information or to arrange an appointment email [email protected] or visit http://marietteabrahams.com