By Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, is an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Barnard has led numerous research studies investigating the effects of diet on health and has authored more than 90 scientific publications and 20 books for medical and lay readers, including his upcoming book “Your Body in Balance”, which describes how healthful foods can reduce the risk of breast cancer and other hormone-related health problems.

While there’s no magic bullet when it comes to breast cancer, did you know that there are things you can do to reduce your risk?

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Physicians Committee has teamed up with breast cancer surgeon Dr. Kristi Funk to share four simple steps women can follow to reduce breast cancer risk.

Let me be clear—there are no guarantees here. But evidence suggests that by eating more plant-based foods—like the delicious, healthful options available through Purple Carrot—and following simple lifestyle guidelines, you can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer or having a recurrence. Here are the basics:

Choose Plant-Based Foods

Eating fiber-rich, plant-based foods helps gently lower estrogen levels, which can reduce breast cancer risk. Many plant foods also have special cancer-fighting properties, particularly cabbage-family vegetables like broccoli, kale, and collard greens. It’s also beneficial to cut out foods linked to increased breast cancer risk, like red meat and processed meats like sausage, bacon, ham, hot dogs, and deli meats.

Exercise

Physical activity also helps keeps estrogen at healthy levels. Exercise can also strengthen your immune system, which means your body may be better able to eliminate any cancer cells that arise.

Limit Alcohol

Studies have shown that drinking alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer. Try flavoring water with fresh fruit and herbs, having soothing herbal tea instead of a nightcap, testing out mocktail recipes, or simply opting for a plain glass of water.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess body weight is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in older women and makes cancer more likely to advance if it arises. Working toward your healthy weight also helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other forms of cancer.

To learn more, visit LetsBeatBreastCancer.org and take the pledge to follow the Let’s Beat Breast Cancer guidelines for the month of October. When you do, you’ll receive a free e-cookbook full of healthful, plant-based recipes for all occasions from celebrities, doctors, and dietitians. Keep an eye out for my entry, a recipe for lasagna with cashew tofu ricotta, and Dr. Funk’s famous “Breakfast Breasturrito”!

We’re proud to promote The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “Let’s Beat Breast Cancer” Campaign. The content and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s