While the month of October (and breast cancer awareness) is nearly over, we think it’s important to continue the discussion for more than one month per year—and not just because an estimated 268,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2019 alone. Breast health, cancerous or not, can be greatly impacted by our environment, and our daily choices. So paying attention to the company you keep in the form of household items, food choices and personal care products, is key all year round. Here’s how what you’re exposed to daily can impact your breast health.
Breast Health + Environmental Toxicity
It should be no surprise that toxins in our system can affect our cellular DNA. Altering cellular DNA can cause the cells to become mutant, and possibly cancerous. Being aware of the toxins you’re regularly being exposed to is important for future prevention of breast-related diseases. One study found that women who lived in areas of higher airborne lead, mercury, and cadmium were at a higher risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.
But it’s not just what you’re exposed to as an adult. Breast tissue actually begins to develop in females prior to birth, and continues to mature during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Recent studies suggest that environmental exposures, such as certain chemicals, diet, and social factors, during these critical stages of development, may increase risk of breast cancer later in life.
The lesson? Paying attention to what you’re exposed to, especially when you’re in a critical developmental stage, can help mitigate your breast-cancer risk. That includes well-known environmental pollutants like PAHs and phthalates, which have been shown to have a role in the development of breast cancer.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Breasts
So how can you impact your environmental today? It might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take it one step at a time, adjusting your choices in phases. Here are a few ideas we’ve discussed in the past:
- Clean up your beauty routine. The personal care products you use on your body have an impact in your body—and it’s getting easier every day to make nontoxic, safer choices, thanks to brands that are leading the charge to help change the industry.
- Choose cleaner cookware. What you cook and bake with can seep into your food, so why not choose less toxic options? Replace one item at a time, and feel confident that you’re giving your body the best chance it has to avoid disease.
- Regulate your stress levels. This is about more than just breast health, but keeping your stress levels to a minimum can impact your overall wellbeing in long and short term ways.
- Get enough good sleep. Another easy(ish) and important way to keep your body balanced, and help keep a myriad of health issues at bay.
- Balance your hormones. Regulated hormones can provide better periods, less pain, and help protect your breasts. It’s a win-win-win.
- Sweat it out. Aiding your body’s ability to detox in healthy ways is key, whether that’s with a great workout or some regular time in a sauna (yep, we’re giving you permission to sit in a hot room and call it “healthcare”).
- Drink clean water + stay hydrated. Getting enough water is key to overall health, but it’s also a great way to aid in your body’s detoxing process.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. This can also give your body a leg up when it comes to any disease prevention.
The conclusion? Maintaining your overall health through food, exercise, and environmental choices can have a big impact on your breasts. And that’s as important to us to raise awareness about as breast cancer this month.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.