For Breast Cancer Awareness Month our registered dietitian, Patricia Guay-Berry, RD, an outpatient oncology dietitian for Adventist HealthCare, tells us why nutrition is important for your breast health.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  As a pre-menopausal woman in her 50s, I worry about breast cancer.  Fortunately, there are some simple things we can all do to help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Blog Guay-Berry Patty_Left


If you only make one change to your lifestyle, being active is the best thing you can do to help lower your risk of developing cancer. In fact, 10 percent of all breast cancer cases are attributed to being inactive.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends 30 minutes of exercise every day. As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity or 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity most days of the week. In general, there seems to be more benefit from vigorous activity like:

  • Jogging at 6 mph,
  • Shoveling,
  • Bicycling fast (14-16 mph),
  • Zumba or high-intensity aerobics,
  • Playing basketball, soccer or tennis.

Being physically active can help both in reducing breast cancer risk staying cancer-free for women who have completed breast cancer treatment. If time is an issue, plan to take a 10-minute walk after each meal. At the end of the day, you’ll have gotten 30 minutes of exercise!

Go Plant-Based

So, what is a “plant-based” diet? Michael Pollan, a food and nutrition author, explains, “Avoid foods products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than five in number or high-fructose corn syrup.” In other words, stick to mostly natural foods like fruits and vegetables.

Be mindful about what you put into your body, and choose more plants. For breast cancer patients especially, eat at least one of these cruciferous green vegetables daily.

  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Collards
  • Rutabaga
  • Watercress

Always ask yourself, “How can I add a fruit or vegetable to this meal?” If it helps, make a rule that you cannot sit down to a meal without a fruit or vegetable on the table.

Combining exercise and a plant based meal plan is best defense against breast cancer. One study showed that exercise and nutrition cut the risk of dying from breast cancer by 44 percent in early stage breast cancer patients.

Want to make an appointment with oncology dietitian? Call 240-826-2012.

Take our fast, FREE online breast health risk assessment this October  for your chance to win a weekend getaway to the Hotel Hershey!