Best practices in battling breast cancer

Published October 5, 2021, 3:00 PM

by Cheshire Que

It’s the number one type in terms of incidence

COMMON PROBLEM  The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness

New cases of breast cancer recorded in the Philippines numbered 27,163 in 2020, according to Globocan, an online database providing global cancer statistics. The said number of cases for both males and females of all ages account for 17.7 percent of the total number of new cancer cases last year. Breast cancer is the number one type of cancer in terms of incidence. It is ranked third for cause of death among the top 10 cancers in the country.

The devastating effect of cancer is not exclusive to the patients, rather it affects the entire household psychologically and financially. The risk for breast cancer development is largely due to genetic factors, lifestyle, environment, and hormonal imbalances.

As with all cancers, the immune system plays a major role in the body’s ability to naturally fight cancer cells or arrest the growth and development of abnormal cells in the body. An immunocompromised individual or one that has a weakened immune system is rendered vulnerable to the disease.

Whether you are battling breast cancer now, trying your best to prevent a recurrence, or simply wishing you never have it, bear in mind that management and prevention of this disease is multifactorial. It is not solely based on state-of-the-art treatment or a specific diet program or expensive supplements. The best way is to adopt a holistic lifestyle approach.

Below are some of the best practices to ensure optimum health as a way to beat breast cancer apart from therapeutic treatments that are often needed for healing.

REST ALWAYS One of the best means to prevent cancer, or any disease is through ample sleep

Breast examination. Early detection will pave the way for higher chances of survival with early intervention. Therefore, monthly self-breast examination, especially for women after the menstrual period, is a must. If there is any lump felt, consult a breast specialist immediately. This, however, should not cause unnecessary anxiety because growths found in breast tissues may not always be cancerous. Breast cancer can also occur in men.

Rest and relaxation. Stress can compromise the immune system, your first line of defense against cancer development. Prolonged stress is accompanied by the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals and hormones in the body. Therefore, while it may be challenging to rest in an environment that is so demanding and hectic, it should take a conscious effort and decision to find pockets of time for rest and relaxation. Perhaps 10 to 15 minutes of deep breathing, prayer, meditation, reflection, journaling, walking, listening to music, and simply spacing out several times in a day will help for starters.

Adopt a plant-based way of eating. Food is not just about calories. Food from plant sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain plant chemicals or phytochemicals that act as antioxidants.

Exercise. Blood circulation is enhanced through exercise and regular physical activity. Studies have shown that circulating tumor cells found in the bloodstream can adhere to blood vessels as a result of poor blood flow. This leads to metastasis or the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Choose a type of exercise that is suited to your level and preference, something that would be fun for you to be able to sustain. Being physically active by walking or taking the stairs throughout the day will also go a long way in helping you become healthier.

QUIT WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD Smoking is dangerous to the health

Adopt a plant-based way of eating. Food is not just about calories. Food from plant sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain plant chemicals or phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals that are toxic and associated with cancer cell formation. Adopting a plant-based way of eating does not necessarily mean that you will entirely shun food from animal sources. It simply means that you are consuming majority of your total intake from plant sources. Aim to eat at least two servings of fruits per day and at least three cups of cooked vegetables daily.

Sleep. A lot of research has concluded that fragmented sleep and inadequate or excessive sleep are all associated with increased risk of developing cancer due to disruption in the circadian rhythm or the body’s biological clock. Hormonal imbalances and inflammation due to inadequate sleep also impact immunity. It is best to get seven to four hours of sleep at night, which allows repair of damaged cells or DNA.

Turn away from tobacco. Avoiding smoking and even the slightest exposure to tobacco smoking is best in preventing not only breast cancer but other types of cancers and illnesses as well. If you are currently smoking and have decided to quit, consult your physician if you need help in preventing withdrawal symptoms.

Beat breast cancer by considering these best practices and adopt a holistic lifestyle approach.

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