Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. To date, modern medicine is still taking the invasive approach to treating/preventing the disease. However, prevention should be built around understanding the disease, knowing the risk factors, and identifying lifestyle changes (including my 4 Pillars of Great Health) that can help reduce one's risk.
Please don't get me wrong; I believe there is a time and place for modern medicine. The modern medical world does - in most cases - have our best interest at heart. My regret is that too often modern medicine looks at the surface of health instead of the root of the problem. There should be more focus on education about lifestyle changes and less time and money spent on potentially bogus research.
Who Gets Breast Cancer?
The jury is still out on this one. Remarkably, some women who have one risk factor or more never get breast cancer. The crazy thing is that about 70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors at all. This is even more reason to live a healthier lifestyle. As the saying goes: "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Things You Can Change (If It Isn't Too Late)
- Avoid the birth control pill
- Avoid hormone therapy
- Breast-feed your babies (breast-feeding lowers the risk)
- Limit alcohol use (have 2 drinks or fewer per day)
- Manage your weight (being overweight is a key risk factor)
- Increase your exercise (increased activity decreases your risk)
- Some doctors also suggest delaying childbirth until after 30
Remember, risk factors are just that: having one or more of them increases the possibility of developing the condition. Having any one of these isn't necessarily a sentence of doom, but should be treated as a wake-up call to take better care of yourself.
The following is based on "what would the Herbal Pharmacist® do if he had this condition?"
Lifestyle is the one constant in the majority of the forms of cancer we get. If we could just change certain things about how we live (LIFESTYLE) we probably wouldn't get cancer. In past articles on cancer, I stated that you won't get cancer if your immune system is functioning optimally. Cancer cells are abnormal cells. If your immune system was working the way it should, it would identify the bad cells and destroy them. I believe that because of the many poor lifestyle choices that we make (that is, by not following my 4 Pillars of Great Health), we decrease the effectiveness of our immune systems, thus placing our bodies in harm's way.
As stated in every newsletter, the 4 Pillars are Supplements, Diet, Activity and Spirituality.
Let's start with supplements. Whether I have this condition or I am trying to avoid developing it, I would look to the same basic supplements. Doses may change based on your condition and its severity (someone with Stage IV cancer would be more aggressive with dosing than someone who is just concerned with prevention). This is the laundry list of supplements that you should consider:
- Green Tea
- Lignans (Flax)
- EPA/DHA (Fish oil)
- I3C (comes from cruciferous vegetables like lettuce, and can also be obtained from supplements containing cruciferous extracts)
- IP-6 with Inositol
- Calcium D-Glucarate
- Iodine (or other natural sources of this mineral)
- Maitake Mushroom Extract (I prefer D-Fraction from Maitake Products)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin A (Use with caution, as high doses have been linked to liver damage)
Of these listed supplements, many can be purchased in the "breast health" supplements section of your local Vitamin Shoppe. I would use these as part of my foundation when building the Herbal Pharmacist ® dietary supplement program.
The next level up would be to use a good antioxidant. You may wish to add more antioxidants if you wish to be more aggressive. Finding a combination antioxidant which contains CoQ10, vitamin A, and maybe the herbs green tea and turmeric would be great. I also include Flor*Essence Tea. This amazing tea is ALWAYS part of my supplement recommendations for those with cancer concerns. Not only is it a great antioxidant, but it also possesses detoxification properties. I especially like its ability to work on cleansing the lymphatic system. This system is critical in all forms of cancer, but especially breast cancer. I have had great success using this tea on a daily basis. Doses ranging from one to two ounces per day to the more aggressive four to eight ounces per day (for very severe cases). Bear in mind, however, that this large dose will usually cause side effects like digestive discomfort and diarrhea.
The third level of supplementation would be your fish oil supplement. The jury is still out on how much is enough without going overboard (no pun intended). I usually recommend that we consume two to three grams per day as part of maintaining great health. Perhaps five to ten grams per day would be considered the high end for a more aggressive approach.
Even though a probiotic is not listed above, I believe we all should be taking a daily supplement of these "friendly bacteria." There isn't any research to confirm that probiotics help the body fight cancer, but with more "good guys" in your digestive system, your body can focus on doing positive work instead of wasting energy on another health issue that my crop up due to insufficient friendly bacteria.
As I always preach: you can't do just one Pillar and expect to be a healthy individual. Let's take a quick look at other recommendation for those concerned with breast cancer.
I feel like a broken record, but here it goes: don't eat refined foods! Throw away and stop consuming refined foods, especially sugar- and flour-based products. I define refined foods as a food that isn't in its original state (pasta, bread, bagels, refined oils, etc.) Instead, eat whole foods! Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats (organic lean cuts), chicken (organic), eggs (organic) and fish (not too much because of heavy metal toxicity). I prefer being heavy on the fruits and veggies and lighter on the animal proteins. If you are having trouble with the fruits and veggies, then buy powdered supplements that contain fruit and vegetable extracts. If you're into soy, eat fermented soy products like tofu. (I recommend staying away from soy because there are too many conflicting studies about it being beneficial or harmful, especially with estrogen- positive forms of cancer like breast cancer).
Studies show that exercise reduces breast cancer risk. I teach in my seminars that regardless of the health challenge you are fighting or trying to prevent, a brisk daily walk - for just 30-45 minutes per day - is beneficial. Brisk walking is defined like this: If you are walking with someone and talking, you should be having trouble catching your breath. According to the American Cancer Society website (www.cancer.org) one study found that as little as one hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours of brisk walking per week reduced the risk of contracting breast cancer by 18%. Their recommendation is that you exercise for 45 to 60 minutes five or more days a week.
I have covered the power of prayer before. I think that the majority of us understand the power of spirituality and our overall health outcome.
I recommend that we all take a deeper look into our hearts and souls to help us be healthier individuals. What about the mind/body connection? My favorite source for this is Louise Hay. Louise Hay believes there is a mental or emotional trigger for every health condition, and so do I. I recommend you get her book(s) and begin working on replacing your negative thoughts/emotions with positive ones. Too often we overlook the mind/spirit component of health. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired then there is no time like the present to start.