Pretty in Pink

October is the month I really miss my hometown, which is located in upsate New York, in the northeastern part of the United States. Autumn in upstate New York, before the snowy winds blow, is robust with color. Deep oranges, reds, and varying shades of yellow enrich the countryside. Reminding us of the changing seasons of the year.

Pink is the color I have been seeing most  recently in Shanghai and that can only mean one thing, it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Awareness is the operative word in that sentence. Medicine has made great strides in controlling and treating breast cancer but health prevention measures and early detection are still the best tools in tackling this disease. Here are some general health recommendations that we can all adopt for this month and the years ahead.

Alcohol: In most cases nutritionists will allow that a glass or two of red wine has some health benefits, however in terms of breast cancer prevention, most studies indicate that less, much less, as in none, is best for women. The research includes all alcohol, beer, wine and liquer. According to drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week increases a woman’s risk of hormone receptive- positive breast cancer by 15% and the risk increases with every additional drink.

Optimal weight: Recently there was a weight-loss diet going around that featured good results from an alternate fasting approach to eating. The origins of this diet approach came from studies on women with breast cancer. The researcher wanted to see if  restricting  food would improve treatment outcomes. They found that this method of energy restriction did bring about some weight loss and reduced the amount of circulating hormones that can influence the development of cancer. The bottom line is that maintaining a healthy weight not only reduces your risk of breast cancer but also your risk of developing other chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease.

Cruciferous vegetables: Think crunchy. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, kale and arugula all fall into this category.  These vegetables have copious amounts of fiber and phytonutrients known to have cancer fighting properties.

Tumeric and Ginger: Both these spices have been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects on health and by reducing inflammation we automatically reduce conditions that increase the risk of cancer. To add turmeric to your life, sprinkle it in cooking, put some in your smoothie and  go out for Indian food. Ginger appears liberally in Chinese cooking and makes a wonderful soothing drink on a cold day. Add a few slices to your morning tea.

Many organizations in Shanghai are having luncheons to celebrate survivors, remember victims and remind us all that there is still work to do on breast cancer prevention and finding cures.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!