Breast Cancer – A Focus on Prevention

According to the Center for Disease Control, “Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.” Nearly 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be reported this year. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and results in 500,000 deaths every year. The more developed the country, the greater the incidence of breast cancer.

Since 1960, approximately one million women-double the number of Americans (male and female) who died in World Wars I & II, and in the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf wars combined-have died from breast cancer.

Unfortunately, breast cancer screening and prevention leaves something to be desired as mammograms, thermography and self-examinations statistically don’t fare very well. The best way to be safe is to focus on true prevention which can be done safely and effectively. It’s hard to believe that 1/3 of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime and that statistic is rapidly increasing. Risk factors for breast cancer include:

Conventional hormone replacement therapy
Birth control pills
Not having children or having your first child after the age of 35
Menstrual periods before 12 or menopause after 55
Hair Dyes
Underarm Deodorants
Vitamin D Deficiency
Radiation exposure
High fat diet
Dense breasts
Toxic chemical exposure
Xenohormones – plastics, pesticides etc.
Antioxidant deficiencies
Silicon implants
High blood pressure medication

According to the world-renowned and brilliant immunologist Dr. Aristo Vojdani, “You and I can be exposed to exactly the same amount of chemicals and our response will differ, perhaps by a hundred fold. Therefore, carcinogenic agents in the environment are more harmful to certain members of society than others who are similarly exposed and significant gains in cancer prevention will come only from ensuring that these more vulnerable people are protected. It has been estimated that in the absence of environmental exposure to toxic chemicals, cancer incidence would be reduced by 90%.

Prevention of cancer is the best treatment, avoiding even 20% of cases in the U.S. Would translate into more than 270,000 people spared from the disease.” I hope this illustrates how important it is to avoid products that contain chemicals including skin care, make-up, bathing supplies, dental products etc. Many people go about their daily lives using toxic chemicals on themselves and in their homes completely unaware of the devastating effects they have on the human body. Visit the Environmental Working Groups cosmetic database to see the potential toxicity of the products you are using.

Let’s discuss what actually causes cancer. This has been known for quite some time yet it has been ignored due to a long and dirty money trail. Cancer is the most profitable disease in the history of the world so it is very difficult to make inroads with traditional medicine. Cancer is basically a deficiency of DNA repair enzymes due to an intracellular antioxidant deficit and/or insufficient immune system function. This basically means that your cells can no longer repair themselves resulting in mutation. A cancer cell was basically a normal cell that could not be controlled by your immune system. Cancer cells thrive in an anaerobic metabolism meaning they do not require oxygen whereas healthy cells thrive in an oxygen-rich metabolism. We all have cancer cells in us right now but our immune system metabolizes them because we are healthy and have a surplus of antioxidants.

The first test you should have done is a hormone profile that measures the estrogen metabolites 2, 4 and 16 hydroxyestrogens. This will give you your 2:16 ratio which is a risk factor for estrogen dependent breast cancers. If the ratio is off, there are simple steps you can take to optimize your estrogen metabolism. The first is to eat 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables every week. These include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage to name a few. These contain the compounds indole-3-carbinol and diindolelylmethane or “DIM” which optimize estrogen metabolism. Obesity is a factor in estrogen metabolism as the more body fat a woman has, the more imbalanced her estrogen metabolism will be to the more toxic estrogen metabolites. Essential fatty acids from fish oil such as EPA and DHA will help healthy estrogen metabolism. And lastly, toxic chemicals such as pesticides that accumulate in the body from conventional food will result in unhealthy estrogen metabolism. Seasonal detoxification/cleansing programs will rid your body of these chemicals and this is one more reason to eat organic foods. The hormone profile will also give you progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, all 3 estrogens and cortisol levels all of which interact in their own unique way.

The second thing you can do to prevent breast cancer is to be evaluated for iodine deficiency. Iodine is a vital nutrient for the health of not only the thyroid, but the breast as well. In fact, when you ingest iodine the body prioritizes all that the thyroid needs and anything left over goes directly to the breast. Iodine works in two ways to prevent breast cancer: It directly destroys breast cancer cells. It optimizes estrogen metabolism shunting the more potent estradiol and estrone to the weaker, yet more protective estriol. You may have an iodine deficiency if you have any of the following symptoms or diseases:

Cold hands and feet
Fibrocystic breasts (lumps or lumpy breasts)
Hair loss
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Uterine Fibroids
Dry skin, nails and hair
Any and all thyroid disorders
Prostate problems (let’s include the guys here since 2% of all breast cancers occur in men)

It’s important that you are sure you do not have autoimmune thyroid disease before supplementing with iodine as it can potentially make this condition worse. The form of iodine to ingest is extremely important as well. Iodine supplements come in the form of iodide and iodine. Iodide mainly fortifies the thyroid gland and iodine the breast. It’s best to take a compound of both of these types of iodine. I use drops and capsules depending on the patient and the dose needed.

I have written extensively on Vitamin D and it’s connection to nearly all types of cancer. There are many, many papers that have been published connecting vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but a pro-hormone produced when sunlight contacts your skin. 93% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D so there is a good chance you are as well. Unless you are getting 30 minutes of sunshine on your entire body every day, you are probably deficient. There is no way to get enough vitamin D from food so you must supplement. I test almost every patient for vitamin D in our basic work up and you should be tested as well. Don’t rely on the laboratory ranges to gauge your optimal levels. I like to see vitamin D levels between 50 and 100 as opposed to the lab range which states you are sufficient if your levels are greater than 32. I recommend 2-10,000IU/day depending on the patient as each person has different requirements. Make sure your vitamin D supplement also has vitamin K in it and that you also take vitamin A because vitamin D supplementation can cause deficiencies in these fat-soluble vitamins.

Antioxidants come in many forms and are best taken in combination instead of in isolation. EGCG (green tea extract) has been shown to directly inhibit breast cancer cell growth. Resveratrol which is the red pigment found in red grapes has been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell metastasis. When EGCG and curcumin were combined they actually directly inhibited breast tumor cell growth. Diindolylmethane (DIM) as mentioned previously not only enhances healthy estrogen metabolism, but it also inhibits breast cancer cell growth. Coenzyme Q10 is an intracellular antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell growth. CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body and is important for energy production and DNA repair. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit the growth of all forms of cancer including the breast. It is extremely important that you take vitamin E in the form of “mixed tocopherols.” If your supplement just says, “alpha tocopherol” then you may actually increase your risk of cancer. So many supplements only contain this form and millions of Americans are ingesting it unknowingly. Other antioxidants to choose from include quercitin, vitamin C, vitamin A, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, ginger, grape seed extract and melatonin.

A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006 found that the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid or “CLA” found in beef directly inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. I need to make a very important point on meat and breast cancer. Conventional meat is loaded with hormones, toxins and pesticides that significantly contribute to cancer cell growth. Whatever you do, avoid conventional meat like the plague. Grass-fed beef that is free-range and organic does not contain these harmful compounds and it is loaded with CLA. CLA is a potent anti-cancer fatty acid and will also increase your muscle mass and decrease your body fat. Grass-fed beef also contains quite a bit of CoQ10, vitamin A, B-vitamins and essential minerals such as selenium, zinc and magnesium. Grass-fed beef actually has the same essential fatty acids as fish called EPA and DHA which provide all the benefits we read so much about from fish consumption and fish oil supplementation. Remember, it is conventional meat that you must avoid at all costs and not organic, grass-fed, free-range meat. Vegetarians are fine continuing their avoidance of meat.

Lastly, you should be following an alkaline-forming diet which as you know, if you are a patient of mine, this is a fundamental of health that we should all adhere to. An alkaline-forming diet is a diet rich in buffering minerals magnesium and potassium. Alkaline-forming foods are plant-based including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes etc. Your diet should consist of 60-80% alkaline-forming foods and the other 20-40% can be acid-forming. Acid-forming foods are meat, dairy, and grains. You can test your first morning urine with pH paper looking for the optimum range of 6.4-7.5. Cancer cells have a difficult time surviving in an alkaline pH so maintaining an alkaline-state will give you excellent protection from developing cancer.

In conclusion, since 90% of cancer can be avoided by the avoidance of toxins in our environment, it’s so important to take a look at your own environmental space. Make changes to non-toxic products when you can. Exercising 3 days/week has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Optimize your vitamin D levels and get evaluated for iodine need. Use some of the antioxidants mentioned in this article for extra protection. If you have a family history of breast cancer then get your hormone levels checked to see if you are at risk. I recommend doing a cleanse at least twice a year to rid your body of excess toxins that may have built up in your system. Alkalize your body and if you need resources for this we have an eBook called the Alkaline Way which we can provide for you at your convenience. I hope this helps you have a clearer picture on the causes of breast cancer and how to prevent it!

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