There’s a whole lot of “pink” going on in October in honor of breast cancer awareness but orange may be a better color choice for women who want to reduce their risk.
“Orange is the New Pink” is the theme of the breast cancer prevention campaign recently launched by The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. This organization of physicians and other health promoters would like to change the way we treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer by focusing on prevention rather than drugs and surgery. Their goal is to teach people how to take control over their own health through better nutrition.
The “orange” in their message refers to the color of some vegetables and fruits containing carotenoids, specifically beta carotene, which are potent cancer fighters. Beta carotene is found in foods like carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes so it’s easy to see why orange was chosen as the theme color. Beta carotene is also present in in dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale) and in red fruits and vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes. (Maybe red and green will be the new pink for the holiday season?…)
Research shows that women who consume the most carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables may reduce their risk of breast cancer by about 19 percent. According to The Institute of Medicine consuming just 3 to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene each day reduces the risk of breast cancer. One medium sweet potato contains two to three times the recommended intake.
To decrease the risk of breast cancer even further women can follow the advice of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Breast cancer risk was reduced by 60% in women who met at least 5 of their “Ten Recommendations for Preventing Cancer”. The recommendations are as follows:
- Be as lean as possible without being underweight
- Be physically active for 30 minutes every day. Avoid being sedentary.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans).
- Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats.
- If you consume alcohol; limit to one drink per day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with sodium.
- Don’t rely on dietary supplements to prevent cancer.
- New mothers should breast feed exclusively for the first 6 months.
- Cancer survivors should follow the recommendations (#1-8) for cancer prevention.