Exercise (including tennis!) may reduce breast cancer risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and today I thought I’d speak to some of the lifestyle choices we can make to reduce our risk. Yes, there are factors we can’t change – things like our genetics and a family history of the disease, but happily, there are still things we can all do to reduce the odds.

Worldwide incidence of breast cancer has increased by more than 20 percent in the last seven years. Although some experts continue with the quest for a cure, others have uncovered evidence that simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce risk.

Last month for example, a study in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil offers a beneficial effect in the prevention of breast cancer.  A healthy diet is always a good place to start when it comes to prevention – so ask your doctor about this diet and other modifications you can make to reduce your risk. We know for example, that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage are associated with reduced cancer risk.

Just as eating well is important, so too is drinking well. Drink more water, skip the sugary beverages, and limit or eliminate alcohol altogether. Some of the newest research seems to suggest that no amount of alcohol is safe.

Smoking too, increases the risk of breast cancer and other diseases. Don’t start, and if you do smoke, get some support in quitting.

And now on to the tennis connection!  No surprise here, but exercise reduces the risk of acquiring many conditions and diseases and helps in their management. Exercise is also the only proven way to slow the aging process.  Research confirms that regular exercise (adults needs at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping exercise each week for health benefits) reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer – including colon and breast cancers. So don’t tuck your racquet away as the weather cools and winter approaches – instead look into winter facilities and indoor tennis options that will enable you to increase your skill while decreasing your risk of disease. Some tennis fans I know, switch to indoor badminton, vigorous games of table tennis, or other activities and sports… do what you enjoy… but just keep moving!

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