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Quinn on Nutrition: ‘Bear food’ to lower breast cancer risk

October 31, 2016

"They say what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger," I read on a sign in a national park recently. "But not bears," it continued. "Bears will kill you. Avoid close contact and use bear spray."

Later, while visiting the Grand Tetons, we spotted a grizzly bear intently digging for food by the side of the road. As we watched onlookers armed with cameras jump out of cars to get closer, my friend Jana remarked, "There’s an idea for your column. You could write about what the bears eat and what they can potentially eat … us."

Breast cancer can kill us, too. But like the bear warnings we get from park rangers, cancer experts tell us there is much we can do to avoid calamity from this disease. Here is some good advice from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula:

Get a mammogram. Talk to your doctor about when to start.

Get active. Do things you love (like hiking in national parks with bear spray). As little as one to two hours of walking a week reduced women’s risk for breast cancer, according to a study from the Women’s Health Initiative.

Limit alcohol. More than just one drink a day can increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, says the ACS.

Don’t smoke. Smoking is definitely a risk factor for breast cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight. Your risk for breast cancer goes up if you are overweight.

If you are a mom-to-be, plan to breastfeed your infant. It may help prevent breast cancer later on.

Talk to your doctor about the effects of hormone therapy, especially as you get closer to menopause.

Eat a healthy diet. What’s that? Research evidence shows that a diet high in plant-based foods including whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables accented with healthful sources of protein and fat (lean meats, poultry, fish, soy and low-fat dairy plus oils, nuts and avocados) provide the framework for stronger bodies to resist cancer growth.

I later learned from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that, like we humans, bears are omnivores — adapted to eat plants as well as food from animals. And bears are not picky eaters. They eat whatever they can find. In the fall, before they hibernate for the winter, bears load up on berries, nuts, root vegetables and other available food, which in people terms is called Thanksgiving,

After a drive through Yellowstone Park, we stopped for a meal at the famous Irma Hotel (named for Buffalo Bill’s daughter) in Cody, Wyo. And there it was on the menu: "Bear Food" — a salad of greens, blackberries, blueberries, walnuts and feta cheese … chicken or fish optional. Just what the doctor ordered.

 

 





 


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