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Tuesday, 07 October 2014 10:00

October 2014 is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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It has been estimated that one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in the United States in her lifetime. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women. Men get breast cancer too, although breast cancer is much less common in men it certainly wouldn't hurt for men to be aware of it as well. 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, with about 450 deaths due to male breast cancer occurring each year.

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. - John Diamond

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and breast cancer screening.

New Suggestions

91618146Even though breast self-exams have long been recommended as a simple way for women to keep track of anything unusual in their breasts, recent studies have found that such exams do not reduce breast cancer death rates and actually increase the rate of unnecessary biopsies. Now many experts are recommending a more relaxed approach known as “breast awareness.” This means to continually check your breasts for changes, but this could be done in a way that feels natural. Simply be aware of what's normal for you so you can recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Even though mammograms are the traditional form of detecting breast cancer, there is also thermographic breast screening, another option for detection which may be able to predict the likelihood of breast cancer, even before any tumors have formed. It provides a snapshot of the early stages of angiogenesis (the formation of the direct supply of blood to cancer cells), a necessary step before cells can grow into sizeable tumors.

But even beyond all these things, take preventative measures through healthy eating and lifestyle practices.

Reduce your Risk for Breast Cancer

Consider What You Eat

According to WebMD, "The easiest, least-expensive way to reduce your risk for cancer is just by eating a healthy diet," says Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, PhD, MPH, RD, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute. In fact most health experts actually agree that a diet rich in vegetables and fruit is important to health. (If this seems more like ‘diet’ food remember this is actually recommended for general good health anyway, and means learning to eat more produce as a real daily lifestyle. In fact in maintenance, CMWM suggests as a bare bones minimum of at least five servings a day of fruit and vegetables. (Read this month’s article on Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Foods [super foods] for an in-depth review of other great health reasons to consume your veggies!)

The real heroes in food for cancer prevention are: vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, dark leafy greens, collards, spinach and kale. The glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiacyanates. Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects. Other star foods include citrus fruits, all berries, apples, pomegranates, unprocessed nuts/seeds, and particularly fresh ground flaxseeds.

Turmeric, a common kitchen spice may be another effective cancer fighting agent. Dr. William LaValley from Austin Texas, one of the top natural medicine cancer physicians has the most evidence based literature of this spice for cancer support than any other nutrient. According to his research there are over 100 different pathways that curcumin (the medicinal compound of tumeric) has an effect on the body once it gets into the cell.

Curcumin in fact, appears to be generally safe in the treatment of all cancers. (It’s still best to always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.) It’s interesting to know that turmeric the most widely spice used in India, and the prevalence of the four most common U.S. cancers -- colon, breast, prostate and lung – is actually 10 times lower in India! (If you decide to use curcumin specifically for all its great nutritional benefits especially related to cancer prevention, look for a turmeric extract with at least 95% curcuminoids.) Other food related thoughts:

  • Most health orientated health authorities agree that a diet rich in plant foods may be healthier than a diet that contains a lot of animal products. So limit consumption of red, fatty animal meat, especially processed meat, like deli meats (those with nitrates and nitrates). Avoid residual hormones found in non-organic dairy products, meat and poultry. Go organic if you can.
  • You should also avoid or minimize sugar products and even processed white flour foods (they are processed in the body similarly to white sugar). Think whole unprocessed food rather than pre-packaged foods. BioMed Central and holistic health authorities report that increased breast density is one of the risks in developing breast cancer, and strongly suggests that sugar is associated with this issue. Considering all the other health hazards of excessive sugar consumption anyway, it’s a good suggestion to moderate it. Consider the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit added daily sugar intake to no more than 100 calories a day (about six teaspoons) for women, and 150 calories (about nine teaspoons) for men.
  • Minimize overconsumption of highly refined omega-6 oils like sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed seed oil, saturated fats and especially avoid trans fats. Maximize the omega-3 oils from oily fish like wild salmon, (not farm raised) mackerel, sardines and tuna. Include monounsaturated found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado.
  • If you consume soy products consume them in moderation and use only organic soy products (or use non-GMO soy only) and choose the unfermented soy sources instead of all the processed forms of it. More research is actually needed to understand the relationship between specific forms of soy and particularly how high doses of isoflavones (a component found in soy products) impact cancer risk and recurrence. Be careful of having excessive iron levels. Extra iron may increase free radicals in your body and thereby increase your risk of cancer. Excess iron is found simply by looking at lab results and examining the ferritin level. An overload of iron is more common once women stop menstruating.
  • Another report presented at the latest meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research showed a link between increased vitamin D intake and reduced breast cancer risk. (Studies with more optimal levels over the 30 ng/ml are suggested, and other research is suggesting around 80 ng/ml.) It indicated that vitamin D can lower breast cancer risk by up to 50%. Most people seem to run low on this crucial nutrient anyway. Ask you clinic to get you tested! (Lack of vitamin D can also inhibit weight loss if you run too low.)
Lifestyle Considerations
  • Lose excess weight. Aim for a BMI (body mass index) of 25. Being overweight has been proven to increase the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life.
  • Exercise has also been proven to reduce cancer risk. The recommendation for healthy adults according to the Department of Health and Human Services is: 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (equal to brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, along with strength training exercises, at least twice a week.
  • If you are a younger woman, breast-feed your baby. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect from cancer.
  • Use pharmacologic estrogens only as needed. Long-term hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. You may be able to manage your symptoms of menopause with non-hormonal therapies, such as physical activity, other lifestyle changes or alternative medicine. The key with hormones is balance.
  • Avoid estrogen-like compounds (xeno-estrogens) found in environmental pollutants, industrial chemicals, pesticides, fragrances/perfumes, air-fresheners etc. as much as possible.
  • Eliminate or limit alcohol consumption. The more alcohol you drink, the greater the risk of developing breast cancer. Consuming just 1 drink a day can increase cancer risk by 50%. If you choose to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — at least limit it to no more than 1 drink a day. Remember one single serving of alcohol is: 4-5 ounces (about a half cup) of wine, or 1, 12 ounce of light beer or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor.
  • Take a quality grade multi-mineral and fish oil daily (or consume oily, wild only fish 2-3 times a week). If the multi does not does not contain selenium, supplement your daily diet with a single Brazil nut.
  • Maintain a positive outlook on life with work and play in balance. Develop healthy relationships with family and friends. Get adequate sleep.
Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering - an image of death. – Buddha


This article was updated on 10/10/14.

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