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One of eight women will get breast cancer in this country, but only 5-10 % of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary.

The other 90% may be due to lifestyle and environmental. We know that more women than men get breast cancer, which peaks at about age 65-75. Night shift workers are also more vulnerable to breast cancer because of suppression of melatonin.Follow this story to get email or text alerts from NBC2 when there is a future article following this storyline.

What can we do to decrease the risk? Here’s some suggestions: 

– Exercise. Moderate exercise most days of the week keeps body fat down and reduces the risk of developing this cancer.

– Turn off the electronics. Blue light from cell phones, computers and televisions suppress our melatonin which is important in a breast cancer reducing lifestyle. 

– Drink less alcohol. Regular alcohol use in any amount may increase the risk of breast cancer with the slight exception  for red wine.

– Eat more fiber – especially soluble fiber like oat bran and apples and pears. More than 25 grams of fiber per day lowers the incidence of breast cancer. The standard American diet contains only about 15 grams.

– Eat more green vegetables – especially all the cabbage family greens, like broccoli, brussels sprouts and other leafy greens. Green vegetables help prevent this cancer and its recurrence because of 2 compounds: Sulforane and indole-3 Carbinol, both anti-cancer agents.

– Eat whole soy (not powder). Soy is instrumental in keeping our breast cancer gate keeper gene alert for intruders. This is helpful in both preventing reoccurrence as well as first time breast cancers.

– Eat ground flax seeds. Flaxseeds belong to a group called lignans, which dampen the effects of estrogen by working with the intestine probiotics.

– Avoid smoking cigarettes  and avoid second hand smoke exposure which is a risk for several cancers.

– Avoid artificial fragrances and flavors found in toiletries , make up ,and cleaning supplies as these often have endocrine disrupters which mimic estrogen. 

– Avoid cooking at high temperature- especially grilling, which may form heterocyclic amines which have been shown to increase this cancer risk five-fold.

Making small consistent changes go a long way in preventing cancer by many other chronic illnesses. 

This cancer affects millions of women, but with newer treatments and lifestyle modifications, many more are living full long lives.