Many experts believe we are winning the fight against breast cancer and that the more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States testify to our progress.
But you can’t be complacent about this deadly disease. Though we may be edging forward in the anti-cancer battle, you may not be out of danger. We may never completely prevent or cure this disease even though we are increasing the survival statistics.
Reduce Your Risks
Though there is a genetic component to breast cancer, 90 percent to 95 percent of cases are not hereditary. You need to focus on the risks that you can reduce.
Always avoid ionizing radiation whenever possible. Consider that CT scans produce 500 times more radiation than standard X-rays, so never be scanned except when the scan is absolutely necessary.
You also need to minimize other potential carcinogens in your life like pesticides, heavy metals, environmental toxins and estrogen-mimicking compounds present within numerous food, household and environmental sources.
Personal habits are critically important. Lower your cancer risk by not smoking, avoiding excess drinking, getting enough sleep and keeping your weight under control.
Mammography can spot problem areas in the breast, but it also misses tumors. It fails to detect 20 percent of tumors in women over 50 and as many as 40 percent in younger women. Also, mammograms produce ionizing radiation, a cancer risk. However, researchers are constantly searching for ways to improve this technology, with some interesting outcomes such as a novel, new photon-counting technique.
Other testing options include ultrasound, MRI and thermography. Unfortunately, none of these tests achieve complete accuracy. I recommend a combination of the above imaging methods in order to achieve a comprehensive baseline image, then using thermography annually to measure breast health progression.
There is also preventive detection using lab work. For example, vitamin D levels, hormone imbalances, poor estrogen metabolism, low thyroid levels and high iodine can all be problematic. Diagnosing these problems early and correcting them can head off cancer.
We are also learning more about cancer biomarkers. The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a test for galectin-3, a protein that, at elevated levels, can indicate increased cancer risk.
If you have a suspicious mass, a biopsy is often used to determine whether it is cancer. There are two main types of biopsy:
- Fine needle biopsy: A hollow needle removes a small sample of tissue.
- An excisional biopsy: Removal of the entire mass.
Each of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages.
Needle biopsies produce accurate results, but they disturb the body. That can lead to increased inflammation and growth factors the body tries to use to heal the irritated area. This response, however, can actually feed cancer.
Excisional biopsy, on the other hand, removes the entire mass. It leaves behind no abnormal tissue for the body to try to heal. However, excisional biopsies are more invasive and require general anesthesia.
The three major forms of cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Surgery can be either lumpectomy, removal of only the cancer, or mastectomy, the removal of the entire breast. The choice depends largely on a cancer’s invasiveness.
Interestingly, breast cancer survival rates are better in premenopausal women when surgery is conducted soon after ovulation.
Chemotherapy uses toxic chemicals to poison cancers. However, new individualized approaches, based on the genomes of the cancer and the patient, are having a profound effect on chemo effectiveness. All cancers have genetic mutations, and knowing those specific variations can direct treatment. Other genetic tests can determine whether a patient will respond well to a certain drug.
New radiation therapies are also being developed. Some facilities offer a technique, called the mammotome, in which a tiny radioactive seed is inserted for a short period of time, delivering highly targeted radiation to the tumor while leaving surrounding tissue undisturbed.
Published Research On Foods And Herbs
Your lifestyle and diet can affect your breast cancer risk.
We have long known that red meat and fried foods are associated with cancer. Sugar feeds inflammation and tumor growth. On the other hand, diets high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables contain natural antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cauliflower are especially beneficial because they contain multiple compounds that act specifically against cancer and help balance hormones. A whole foods, low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet, combined with physical activity, has also been shown to protect against cancer risk. And you should always stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water.
Research shows that nutritional supplements can play an important role in protecting against breast cancer. Medicinal mushrooms such as Trametes versicolor, Ganoderma lucidum, Phellinus linteus; extracts of the herbs skullcap, astragalus and turmeric; the flavonoid quercetin; and the compound DIM (diindolylmethane) have all shown effects against breast cancer.
An integrative breast care formula containing these ingredients has been shown in a number of published studies to reduce breast cancer aggressiveness and decrease the expression of specific metastatic cancer genes.
A 2012 preclinical study on this advanced breast formula was performed at Indiana University and published in the journal Oncology Reports. Results demonstrated that the formula slowed highly aggressive triple negative breast cancer and prevented lung metastasis by up to 70 percent. Gene analysis showed that the combination of ingredients in this formula suppressed two genes implicated in the metastatic process: PLAU and CXCR4. These genetic findings had been previously reported in earlier studies on the same formula.
Another important supplement is modified citrus pectin (MCP), which blocks excess galectin-3 throughout the body, significantly reducing cancer growth and metastasis. A recent study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies showed that the combination of MCP and the breast formula mentioned above further reduced breast cancer and metastasis by up to 40 percent compared to controls. MCP also controls inflammation, boosts immunity against cancer and safely removes cancer-causing heavy metals from the body.
In all this, never forget the role chronic stress can play in fueling cancer. Use available tools to keep stress at bay: long walks, yoga, and spending time with friends and family. Remember, cancer hates positivity. Kill it with kindness, and don’t give in to pessimism.
Above all, we are seeing the most successes against breast cancer using highly individualized programs that take into account a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. The goal is to strategically combine a number of approaches that can work together synergistically to fight cancer while simultaneously supporting your health from many different angles.