PUBLISHED: 7:04 PM on Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Healthy living cuts cancer risks
Women who eat right and exercise might cite smaller waistlines as motivation, but healthy lifestyles can also cut cancer risk.

While hereditary factors contribute to breast cancer, and women cannot control their genes or age, studies show that lifestyle changes can help even at-risk women prevent disease.

To reduce their cancer risk, women can take the following actions:

• Eat well-balanced meals. A diet filled with a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein can help women maintain a healthy weight.

• Limit dietary fat. While studies suggest that low-fat diets only modestly reduce women's cancer chances, low-fat diets improve cardiovascular health. Fat produces extra estrogen, which can also lead to cancer.

• Avoid alcohol. Some studies suggest that two or more alcoholic drinks a day can raise breast cancer risk by as much as 40 percent. Even one glass of wine a day can increase risk, so women should skip alcohol or save it for special occasions.

• Exercise. At least thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day helps boost overall health. Women should include bone-strengthening activities, like walking or weight lifting, in their weekly routines.

Apart from directly reducing cancer risk, the following tips can help women improve their quality of life:

• Stay positive. The right frame of mind can mean the difference between success and failure in any endeavor. By focusing on solutions and taking action, rather than dwelling on problems, obstacles can be overcome more easily.

• Get involved. Giving back to one's community through individual and group activities is another way to improve your quality of life. Many charities and corporations have teamed up in the fight against cancer by selling special-edition products to raise funds for cancer research. From makeup and designer T-shirts to exclusive cars, many items are sold in an effort to raise money. One example, Mercedes-Benz, has designed 1,000 Signature Edition S550 sedans to raise $1 million for organizations researching new detection methods, treatments and cures for women's cancers.

• Treat yourself. Whether it is going shopping with friends, taking extra time out of your day for a stroll in the park or cooking with family, treating yourself can help boost your mental attitude and overall health.