October is breast cancer awareness month—the leading type of cancer in women (around 30%). Awareness focuses on prevention as well as treatment. Cancer prevention involves a healthy lifestyle and periodic screenings. Treatment involves making informed choices.

The research connecting lifestyle to positive health outcomes is compelling. Below I highlight the landmark Alameda 7 Study:

In 1965, Lester Breslow examined the health habits of 6,928 people in Alameda County, CA, with a focus on 7 specific health habits he thought were important. Participants’ behaviors were examined over 20 years. As a result, Breslow found that a 45 year old person who followed at least 6 of the 7 habits lived in good health 11 years longer than a person who followed 3 or fewer.

Below is the list of his original habits:
1. Avoid smoking
2. Exercise regularly
3. Maintain a healthy bodyweight
4. Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night
5. Limit consumption of alcoholic drinks
6. Eat breakfast
7. Avoid snacking between meals

Researchers throughout the years have added to the 7 habits by also looking at social networks, spirituality and several demographic variables. Their findings strongly support the positive impact lifestyle has on long-term health outcomes.

Whether you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or just want to achieve optimal health, here are six tips to help you overcome your resistance to making changes that promote wellness:

• Avoid seeing healthy habits as a sacrifice – See them as a gift to yourself.
• See your healthy habits as a deposit in a bank account – The “gold” will be there when you need it later in life.
• Tap into your sense of adventure and courage – You will be able to make a change even though it takes you beyond your comfort zone.
• Set realistic short-term goals – Your successes will motivate you to keep going.
• Join groups or activities that focus on wellness – You will feel a part of something worthwhile.
• Spend money and time on your health – Your investment will produce great dividends.

If you choose to develop a healthy lifestyle, be gentle with yourself. Do not blame yourself if you fall short of your goals or your efforts do not bring you the results you want. It has taken me many years to develop the healthy habits I have today. I continue to try products and protocols that I can afford and feel right for me. I feel some comfort and security in my cancer prevention lifestyle; the rest is always in the hands of a Higher Power.

If you have been through breast cancer treatment, I celebrate you for the courageous journey you have taken and wish you a long healthy life. If you have lost a loved one to breast cancer, I hope you will find comfort in the sisterhood that is grieving with you. The bottom line: Research supports the connection between lifestyle and health outcomes, and that includes breast cancer.

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Miniere, M.Ed., is an integrative wellness coach, certified Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner, Amazon best-selling author and speaker. She is a former holistic mental health counselor and has been helping people transform themselves and their lives for over 30 years. In her book, A Lighter Side to Cancer - From Wake-up Call to Radiant Wellness, she shares her uplifting and empowering adventure through breast cancer and highlights healing strategies for the mind, body and soul. Her website is www.IntegrativeWellnessExpert.com.