By Mr Chris Woollams from CANCERactive
(I have published the full article here on this hot topic, but I urge you,whether you have worries or not, to sign up for Chris’ Newsletter. The information that he puts out is very helpful. The signup forms are on all the CANCERactive website pages and columns)
We ran a version of this article about 2 years ago. It was so popular, we decided to update it here.
At the CANCERactive Cancer Prevention Conference in 2004, one Professor stood up and spoke about how, once a woman had breast cancer in one breast, he had the tools to prevent the cancer returning in the other breast.
Is that ‘prevention’, or ‘treatment’? Whether or not you have had breast cancer, we thought you might like to know the following – all of which comes from research articles we have covered in Cancer Watch over the last 5 years.
1. Genetic factors (like BRCA1 and BRCA 2 and PALB-2 mutations) do increase risk. However, less than 7 per cent of women carry these factors and you can be tested for them. If positive, extra preventative care is essential – some reports suggest 25 per cent of diagnosed breast cancers are in people with these genetic faults.
2. A significant change is occurring in the age of people diagnosed. Whilst cancer in general has predominantly been an ‘old person’s disease’ with 80 per cent in the over 60 age group, the latest figures show almost 40 per cent of breast cancers are being diagnosed in younger women.
3. Many women who develop breast cancer have significant vitamin and mineral deficiencies. US research has shown deficiencies of selenium and zinc increase risk, while 72 per cent of US women with breast cancer were shown to be vitamin C deficient and 78 per cent to be deficient in vitamin B-12. US research also showed that women with low blood levels of vitamin E were 500 times more likely to get the disease, the tocotrienol variants of vitamin E being far more preventative than the tocopherol variants.
Guess which ones the EU has not permitted for High Street sale!
4. Like vitamin E, long-chain omega-3 has been shown to keep breast tissue less dense. Women with the highest blood levels of omega-3 have the lowest levels of breast cancer. Long-chain omega 3 is principally obtained from oily fish and taking fish oils. Some can convert from plant short-chain omega 3.
5. Women with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D have more breast cancer, and survive less. Professor Hollick of Harvard has stated that there ‘would be 25 per cent less fatalities from breast cancer if women took adequate levels of vitamin D’. If you cannot go out in the sunshine for at least 30 minutes a day, you should supplement; some US medical centres recommend 5,000 IUs a day.
6. Eating red meat is linked with a threefold increased risk in breast cancer, possibly due to the animal’s own hormones, or the pesticides from the fields it grazed in. Research in icon concluded that red meat eating caused cellular inflammation – the precursor of many cancers. However, we know of no studies showing, once you have breast cancer, that ‘going vegan’ can increase survival times. In fact if a deficiency of B-12 played a part in causing the disease, going vegan could worsen this because meat is a prime source of the vitamin. Supplement.
7. Cut out cows’ dairy consumption from your diet. The Karolinska Institute amongst other centres of research excellence have shown a direct line correlation: The more cows’ dairy you consume, the greater your risk of breast cancer. The reason is primarily a hormone in the milk called IGF-1 which makes human cells grow and divide rapidly. You can get all the calcium you need from a good helping of green vegetables each day.
8. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of breast cancer. Secondary smoke is far worse for women than men as genetic factors on the X chromosome (women have two X’s, men have one) are particularly affected.
9. Being overweight increases your risks of breast cancer and if you are more than 7 kilos over, your risk is statistically worse than for smoking. If you are overweight and smoke, one US study showed the combination cut around 13 years (yes, thirteen years) off your life expectancy.
10. Women who consume the highest levels of garlic have less breast cancer. One reason is thought to be due to active factors in garlic killing cancer cells and also preventing the formation of new blood vessels for tumours.
11. Cut all common glucose from your diet. Glucose is the favourite food of the cancer cell and there are several studies showing people with the highest levels of blood glucose have the shortest survival times. You will find glucose everywhere – in fizzy soft-drinks, ‘healthy’ Ribena, burgers and ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals, milkshakes and cakes and biscuits.
12. Then there’s alcohol, itself a source of sugar. A woman’s chances of breast cancer increase by 6 per cent with every regular extra daily drink.
13. And salt. In the UK it is mainly hidden from our view in processed and packaged foods. Even beer contains quite high salt levels. You require no more than one gram a day on average – that’s one sausage or rasher of bacon; three bowls of breakfast cereal; 4 slices of bread, and watch out for the canned foods and packets of crisps. One of the worst culprits is Chinese food. Sodium poisons your cells.
14. And cut the bad oils: Animal fats and those supposedly healthy oils with the pictures of sunflowers that have been refined so much that little trace of a sunflower seed remains. The worst are trans-fats. Originally thought to be inert they have now been linked to a higher risk of breast and other cancers.
15. And then we come to oestrogen: Oestrogen is the female sex hormone. It is not a single compound, but a family of compounds, some are far more dangerous than others. The variant commonly called oestradiol is thought to be about 40 times more potent than its weakest sister oestrone.
16. Oestrogen has been known to ‘fuel the fire of cancer’ since the early nineties. Modern research has shown it can act in a number of ways. For example, it can alight on the cellular membrane of healthy cells and send havoc messages inside them; it can stimulate stem cells to remain in their rapidly dividing state; it can actually cause genetic mutation. It is now understood that oestrogen drives a number of different cancers, and as much as 70 per cent of all breast cancers.
17. Not surprisingly then, taking the contraceptive pill increases the risk of breast cancer by about 26 per cent. There are even fears over IVF treatment. But the real health terrorist has been the use of HRT. Described by the German Health minister a few years ago as ‘the new thalidomide’, several research studies have shown that this synthetic hormone can double the risks of breast cancer, and also increase the risks of others (like ovarian). CANCERactive’s Cancer Watch has covered all the negative research in detail. With the decreased usage of HRT in America, breast cancer rates have actually fallen for the first time for years.
18. Also emerging as a possible risk factor is the use of synthetic thyroxine. Historically, women with lowered thyroid performance had less risk of breast cancer. However, some women are put on synthetic thyroxine to compensate for deficiencies. The debate is now starting in the USA. Inadequate testing of the reasons for lowered production has been cited – low iodine levels for example. Women are supposedly given a level of thyroxine commensurate with their weight, and should even alter their dosage with weather conditions. Unfortunately, where women have a standard dose, and eat an iodine-rich meal (shell fish) they may suddenly have excesses of thyroxine. US Research has now indicated a possible increased risk of breast cancer, with excess thyroxine. Thyroxine uses similar chemical pathways to oestrogen in the body.
19. IARC, the International Cancer Research Agency in Lyon, has concluded that irregular sleeping patterns and lack of sleep is carcinogenic, especially for women. The agency cites a number of research studies all of which have been covered in Cancer Watch. IARC warns women such as air hostesses, nurses, night shift workers and even those who stay up late 3 times per week! The mechanism of risk lies in the lowered production of the hormone melatonin. This is produced by the pineal gland about 90 minutes after falling asleep in a darkened room free of artificial light. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant but it is also known to balance and reduce levels of oestrogen and Insulin-like Growth factor (IGF-1), both implicated in cancer development.
20. The World Health Organisation has now declared EMFs as possible carcinogens. They can act in the same way to lower blood melatonin levels. Research showed they even interfered with the performance of Tamoxifen. The growing threat of Electrosmog, including the ubiquitous use of mobile telephony and the largely un-researched WiFi are becoming a genuine cause for concern. Research shows having a TV on standby, sleeping on an electric blanket, and between two bed side electric sockets can have risks too. The selling of Melatonin supplements is banned by the EU, unlike other countries from the USA to Thailand, although your doctor can provide it. I know two top breast cancer professors who take it – bought in US supermarkets for personal use. Take no more than 3 mgs one hour before bed time if you are over 50 (your production, anyway, declines as you age).
21. Xenoestrogens are another area of concern. These are common chemical ingredients in everyday use that mimic the action of oestrogen once they are inside the blood stream. Governments do set limits for individual chemicals, but accumulation and inter-action renders most limits near useless. Some of these chemicals are actually banned in whole or in part by Governments such as Canada, Sweden, Japan and California, but you can buy them in your UK high street today. See our article on xenoestrogens.
22. Women with the highest level of plant oestrogens, or phytoestrogens, in their blood streams have less breast cancer risk. Typically these women are in South East Asia where their consumption of fruit and vegetables can give them blood phytoestrogen levels 1000 times greater than their New York cousins. Phytoestrogens have about 50 times less strength than oestrone the weakest of the human oestrogens. Some ignorant commentators suggest phytoestrogens are ‘dangerous’ – frankly, this is daft and exposes a poor knowledge of science, since phytoestrogens can block the receptor sites oestradiol would like to attack! Typically phytoestrogens are plentiful in vegetables and fruits, greens and pulses, like chick peas, beans, soya beans. Over 30 per cent of our protein came from pulses in 1900, now it is less than 2 per cent. We no longer eat the foods that protect us. (Readers may find the book, ‘The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer’ very helpful.)
23. One of the most potent ‘new’ discoveries in natural compounds for oestrogen-driven cancers is Indole 3 Carbinol, (I3C), typically found in broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale and pok choi. I3C has the ability to actually denature aggressive oestradiol turning it into its weaker sisters, whilst denaturing the by-products too. Research has shown that it can reverse oestrogen-driven cancers, block oestrogen receptor sites and it can restore a damaged p53 gene. It can also reduce the effects of oestrogen mimics and has been dubbed by UCLA to be the ‘safer, natural Tamoxifen’. Hoechst and other Pharmaceutical companies are working on it right now. You could eat one good helping of these vegetables each day, and/or supplement with the natural, but not synthetic, compound.
24. Other beneficial natural compounds from foods include carotenoids, where research has shown they can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and can help prevent it returning. In two 2009 studies groups eating lots of carotenoids, the colourful pigments in peppers, apricots and so on, halved their risk of breast cancer. Medicinal mushrooms, particularly reishi and a complex, PSK, can reduce breast tumours in research, while flaxseed oil has also shown impressive research results.
25. Another way of reducing your oestrogen levels in your body is through having a healthy gut. Unfortunately most orthodox cancer treatments leave your beneficial bacteria in disarray. Beneficial bacteria have been the subject of over 100 clinical trials in the last 7 years and they are now known to direct as much as 85 per cent of your immune system, your natural defence against cancer. Importantly, they also help you break down whole foods producing/releasing cancer-beating vitamins like B-12, folic acid, biotin and vitamin K. Another finding is that they can also break down, bind to and remove from the body oestrogenic and nitrosamine products, chemicals and heavy metals. Recent research showed that they could even produce a cancer-killing chemical (sodium butyrate) from whole foods. Eat whole foods and make sure you take a multi-strained probiotic daily, especially if you have taken antibiotics and drugs or anaesthetic.
26. Take daily exercise. All the 60’s stereotypes of ‘going for the burn’ and lycra have gone. All the latest research says that those people who do 30 minutes of exercise daily get less cancer, and those with breast cancer survive longer. Exercise can be a brisk walk, a swim, yoga, T’ai Chi or whatever you fancy. But do it every day.
27. Be clear of the issues and risks of the screening mammogram, particularly for those women in the high risk, genetic fault group. See our full article on our web site for the research evidence. If you want to be screened regularly, Thermal Imaging may be a better option. Also beware over-diagnosis and mis-diagnosis. The European Breast Cancer Conference heard that, at best, mammograms were inaccurate in two out of three cases.
28. If you are going to have a breast cancer operation and you are pre-menopausal, you might like to know of two studies from Guy’s Hospital. They found that women who had their operations in the second half of their monthly cycle (when progesterone is the dominant hormone) had twice the long term survival rates of the group having the operation in the first two weeks of their cycle (when oestrogen dominates). There is a school of thought that believes natural (but not synthetic) progesterone is very protective.
29. And then there is stress. Although eminent charities and cancer bodies say there is no link, at CANCERactive we know differently. For example, depression is known to be linked to lowered blood oxygen levels and in turn to more cancer, and stress increases blood cortisol levels which in turn increase localised cellular hormones called ecosanoids known to cause inflammation and precipitate cancer. People who develop cancer are often the nicest people, always doing things for others and always trying to please them. The practical problem is that they don’t make time for themselves. The mental issue is that they become stressed, feel guilty, inadequate, don’t want to complain and, instead, put up with difficult and even intolerable situations. Several research studies have now shown that cortisol levels rise in cancer patients once diagnosed, whilst beta-blockers and stress management counseling increase survival times. Yoga has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body.
30. 2011 research from the Karolinska Institute shows that women who have a local, early stage tumour can clear the problem without resorting to surgery. The treatment, Ablatherm or Hyperthermia, uses electrodes to melt away the cancer in less than 30 minutes. This avoids the need for surgery and other follow up treatments. The two year trial was a significant success, whereas there is growing evidence, covered in detail (with research evidence) on our web site, that surgery can spread breast cancers.
These pages are kindly sponsored by the Pink Ribbon Foundation.
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