Yes, mammograms can discover cancerous breast cells early-but that’s not the first line of defense for women. "It’s time to think beyond detecting and treating breast cancer and put a greater emphasis on preventing it in the first place," says Marisa Weiss, MD, founder of Breastcancer.org. And while a genetic predisposition to the disease is significant, the biggest known risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer is being overweight. "Every 11 pounds you gain as an adult increases your risk by 3 to 5 percent," notes Karen Collins, MS, RD, nutrition adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
How to protect yourself, whatever your weight? First, exercise-the standard prescription of 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day helps fend off cancer even if you can’t drop pounds. Second, follow a healthy diet: eat lots of fruits, vegetables and grains, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (nutrients work better in combination than solo); minimize saturated fats; and give up trans fats. "Choosing the right foods can improve your odds of avoiding the disease and may help prevent a recurrence," Weiss says. And this kind of meal plan should help you lose weight.
Here are some specific ingredients for your anticancer menu.