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Tips for preventing breast cancer
by Dave Foreman
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 preventing the disease. Prevention should be built around understanding the disease, including knowing your risk factors, and making appropriate lifestyle changes (including my 4-Pillars of Great Health).
Please don't take me the wrong way, I believe there is a time and place for modern medicine. The modern medical world does - in most cases - have our best interests at heart. My regret is that too often modern medicine looks at the surface of your health instead of the root of the problem. I believe there should be more focus on education about lifestyle changes, and less spent on potentially bogus research.
Who gets Breast Cancer?
Remarkably, many women who have one or more risk factors never get breast cancer. And most women who do get breast cancer don't have any risk factors at all. The crazy fact is: about 70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors. This is even more reason to live a healthier lifestyle. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Risk factors you can't change
- Age (risk rises as you get older)
- Sex (100 times more common in women)
- Race (Whites more than African-American, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian)
- Menstrual Periods (women who begin before age 12 or end after age 55)
- Breast lesions (previous breast biopsy with abnormal cells)
Risk factors you can change (if it isn't too late)
- Childbirth (either not having a child or having one after the age of 30)
- Birth Control Pill use
- Hormone Therapy
- Not breast-feeding (breast-feeding lowers the risk)
- Alcohol Use (do not exceed 2 or more drinks per day)
- Being overweight
- Exercise (increased activity decreases your risk)
Remember, risk factors are just that. Having one or more of these will increase the possibility of developing the condition, but isn't necessarily a sentence of doom. Instead, having risk factors should be treated as a wake-up call to take better care of yourself. The following is based on "what would the Herbal Pharmacist® recommend if he wanted to do everything he could to prevent this condition?" I choose to start with the following comments:
1. The majority of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors
2. No matter where the condition is - breast, colon, lung, etc. - cancer can be life threatening.
3. Modern medicine acknowledges that lifestyle choices (being overweight, smoking, poor eating habits, not enough exercise, etc.) increase your risk of developing cancer.
Having stated these (obvious to many) points, I am drawn to one conclusion: lifestyle is the one constant in the majority (probably all, but I don't have the time to look it up) of the forms of cancer we get. If we could just change certain things about how we live, we probably wouldn't get cancer. In past articles, 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 lifestyle choices we make (e.g.,not following my 4 Pillars of Great Health), we place our bodies in harm's way by decreasing the effectiveness of our immune system.
As stated in every newsletter, the 4 Pillars are Supplements, Diet, Activity and Spirituality. Let's start with dietary supplements. Whether I have this condition or I am looking to avoid it, I would look to the same basic supplements. (Doses may change based on your condition and its severity. For example, someone with Stage IV cancer would be more aggressive with dosing than someone who is just looking at prevention.) Here is the laundry list of supplement you should consider:
- Green Tea
- Lignans (Flax)
- EPA/DHA (Fish oil)
- I3C (comes from cruciferous veggies) (besides diet, use cruciferous extracts)
- 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 caution - high doses are linked to liver damage)
Of these listed supplements, many can be purchased in "breast health" products. Examples such as Advanced Breast Support (M.D. Select) and Healthy Cells Breast (Enzymatic Therapy) would be a great step in the right direction. 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 which targets your condition. Supplements like Super Critical Antioxidant (New Chapter) would be a great fit. You may wish to add more antioxidants if you want to be more aggressive. Finding a combination antioxidant which contains CoQ10, A, and maybe the herbs Green Tea and Turmeric would be great. I also throw Flor*Essence Tea into this level. 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 range from 1-2 ounces per day to the more aggressive 4-8 ounces per day (for very severe cases. 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 we consume 2-3 grams per day as part of maintaining great health. Perhaps 5-10 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 say it helps, but with more "good guys" in your digestive system, your body can focus on doing positive work instead of using up energy on another health issue that might crop up due to insufficient friendly bacteria. Look for a guaranteed delivery product like Reuteri Pearls (Nature's Way), Advanced Probiotic 30 Billion (MD Select) or Ultimate 10 Probiotic (Vitamin Shoppe) for blended formulations.
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 recommendations for those concerned about Breast Cancer.
I feel like a broken record, but here goes: throw away and stop consuming refined foods. (Especially sugar- and flour-based products). I define a refined food as any food that isn't in its original state. Don't Eat It! This includes pasta, bread, bagels, refined oils, etc. You can 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.)
Studies show that exercise reduces breast cancer risk. In my seminars, I recommend that you walk briskly 30-45 minutes per day, regardless of the health challenge you are fighting or preventing. Brisk walking is defined like this: if you are walking with someone and talking at the same time, 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 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 and a half hours of brisk walking per week reduced risk by 18%. Their recommendation is that you exercise for 45 to 60 minutes five or more days per week.
I have covered the power of prayer and the belief in God before. I think that the majority of us understand the power of religion (whatever you may follow) on our overall health outcome. I recommend 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. She believes there is a mental or emotional link to our health (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 changing your lifestyle.