Half of all women aged 25 to 34 are overweight or obese.
Obesity is the biggest threat to women’s health and the health of future generations, warns England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies.
“Obesity is endangering women’s health and that of their babies, the chief medical officer has warned in a report which aims to put to rest for ever the myth that pregnant women should eat for two.
Prof Sally Davies looks across the spectrum at women’s health, from the effects of violence and female genital mutilation (FGM) to eating disorders, cancer survival and the menopause, but she says there is one underlying major concern across the lifespan. Obesity will shorten women’s lives and there is a danger that their children will be stillborn or grow up with health problems themselves, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.”
Steps to Prevent Breast Cancer
1. Maintain a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25) throughout your life. Weight gain in midlife, independent of BMI, has been shown to significantly increase breast cancer risk. Additionally, and elevated BMI has been conclusively shown to increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
2. Minimize or avoid alcohol. Alcohol use is the most well established dietary risk factor for breast cancer. The Harvard Nurses’ Health study, along with several others, has shown consuming more than one alcoholic beverage a day can increase breast cancer risk by as much as 20-25 per cent.
3. Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Eat seven or more servings daily. The superstars for breast cancer protection include all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower); dark leafy greens (collards, kale, spinach); carrots and tomatoes. The superstar fruits include citrus, berries and cherries. Note: it is best to eat cruciferous vegetables raw or lightly cooked, as some of the phytochemicals believed to
offer protection against breast cancer are destroyed by heat.
4. Exercise regularly the rest of your life. Many studies have shown that regular exercise provides powerful protection against breast cancer. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) five or more days a week. Consistency and duration, not intensity, are key!
5. Do your fats right! The type of fat in your diet can affect your breast cancer risk. Minimize consumption of omega-6 fats (sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils), saturated fats and trans fats. Maximize your intake of omega-3 fats, especially from oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and herring). Consume monounsaturated oils (canola, olive oil, nuts/seeds, and avocados) as your primary fat source, as these foods have potential anticancer properties. Specifically, canola oil is a good source of omega-3 fats;
extra virgin olive oil is a potent source of antioxidant polyphenols, including squalene; and nuts and seeds provide you with the cancer protective mineral, selenium.
6. Do your carbs right! Minimize consumption of the high glycaemic index, “Great White Hazards” – white flour, white rice, white potatoes, sugar and products containing them. These foods trigger hormonal changes that promote cellular growth in breast tissue. Replace these “wrong” carbs with whole grains and beans/legumes. Beans/legumes because of their high fibre and lignan content are especially special.
7. Consume whole food soy products regularly, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk and miso. Only consume organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) soy. Epidemiologic studies have shown a positive association between soy consumption and reduced breast cancer risk.
8. Minimize exposure to pharmacologic estrogens and xeno-estrogens. Do not take prescription estrogens unless medically indicated. Lifetime exposure to estrogen plays a fundamental role in the development of breast cancer. Also avoid estrogen -like compounds found in environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. Buy organic produce if you can afford it; otherwise, thoroughly wash all non-organic produce. Minimize exposure to residual hormones found in non-organic dairy products, meat and poultry.
9) Maintain a positive mental outlook. Engage in self-nurturing behaviours regularly. Develop rich, warm and mutually beneficial relationships with family and friends. Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night). The mind-body associations with breast cancer are significant.
Exercise has become something we have to make time for rather than something that’s just a normal part of everyday life, e.g. cycling is a lycra-clad extreme sport rather than a mode of transport. Or even worse, it’s something we look at rather than participate in. When people ask ‘what sport do you like?’ they usually mean what do you watch on TV. Passivity has become the norm.
For a lucky few, like Lord Coe, sport is their job, it keeps them occupied and healthy at the same time. Crucially they get paid for it too.
Writing about it too, is avoidance. For me, it’s lunchtime at the moment and I’ll be digging my allotment later.
The concept of Five-a-day was introduced to the UK because the Health authorities thought that the 9+ a day actually recommended by researchers would be too much for us to cope with. Talk about ‘nanny state’. Now they’re actually daring to say that’s not enough. Of course if 5 is set as the ‘to aim for’ target, people will think that 3 or so will do. NO – it won’t !!
We should eat 9 – 13 portions of raw, fresh, fruit & veg each day – and most should be veg.
On the face of it this article is helpful, and I suppose it could be to some. I have an issue though with the whole idea of subterfuge and ‘kidology’.
Here’s a radical thought: be honest with your children.
It starts with food cut into fancy shapes, tempting toddlers with a whole host of disguises rather than introducing food as..wait for it.. food ! Keep it in its natural state as much as possible. Hungry? Have some food.
Similarly, drink. I’m sure a massive amount of unnecessary sugar, calories, preservatives, colourings etc. slips endlessly down young throats because parents have trained their children not to recognise when they’re thirsty -and the ideal, natural solution is water. It is almost free; healthy; hydrating; immediately available to the body instead of having to be digested and purified.
Instead, involve children in discussions and preparation, in choosing and shopping. And consider how much money is spent in disguising food and drink or inflating it in terms of added water, air, and of course money.