Diet and Breast Health
Consume a diet of whole foods which are foods that are eaten in their original form. Eat 15-20 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits everyday. The superstar vegetables for breast cancer protection include: all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower); dark leafy greens (collards, kale, spinach); carrots, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Secondly, eat those vegetables raw or lightly steamed as some of the phyto-chemicals believed to offer protection against breast cancers are destroyed with cooking. The superstar fruits to include in your diet are: citrus, berries, pomegranates, cranberries, and cherries.
- Juicing the vegetables and making fruit smoothies are both excellent ways to increase your daily servings of these.
Learn about acid/alkaline balance- pH refers to “potential of hydrogen” and is a measurement of whether your body is in an acidic, balanced, or alkaline state. The pH scale runs from 1-14, with 7 being in the middle (or neutral). Anything lower than 7 would be within the acidic range, anything above 7 is within the alkaline range. People with a balanced pH are able to resist sickness and disease because their body is naturally able to fight it off. While people who are overly acidic or overly alkaline are more prone to sickness and diseases. Acidic cells create an acidic body, and an acidic body is a precursor for disease. Some signs of excess acidity will include fatigue with general aches and pains. Acidosis is especially problematic because it interferes with normal cell function. An example of this is in the production of white blood cells which are essential for a strong immune system. Poor quality white blood cells are produced in acidic environments, making it easy for infections and diseases to take hold. Alkaline foods consist of fruits and vegetables, while acidic foods are meats, dairy, grains, sugar, processed foods. Read more about acid/alkaline
Avoid the fats that promote inflammation-Minimize your consumption of refined polyunsaturated oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn, soy, canola, grape seed, and cottonseed oils as these oils oxidize easily (become rancid) and promote inflammation in the body. Trans fats that are found in margarine, processed foods and baked goods are harmful because they clog up the cells, not allowing for the transfer of oxygen and nutrients. It is important to learn the heat tolerance of the cooking oils that you use to avoid creating toxic compounds. Saturated fats do not oxidize easily and can handle higher heat safely, these include coconut oils, organic butter and ghee. You can use olive oil and avocado oil as a finishing oil at the end of cooking or for making a healthy salad dressing. Maximize your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from food sources that can include oily fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies), freshly ground flax seeds, raw walnuts, hemp seeds and chia seeds. Read more about healthy fats
Eliminate the sugar- Most of the American population is consuming about 150 lbs of refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup every year, and our bodies just aren’t designed to deal with this constant barrage. Excess sugar is the number one cause of diabetes, heart disease and also fuels the development of cancer. In his book ‘Anticancer: A New Way of Life,’ David Servan-Schreiber MD, PhD, writes “when we eat sugar, or white flour, or foods with a high ‘glycemic index’, the blood levels of glucose rise rapidly. The body immediately releases a dose of insulin to enable the glucose to enter the cells. The secretion of insulin is accompanied by the release of another molecule, called IGF (insulin-like growth factor), whose role it is to stimulate cell growth. He writes that “insulin and IGF not only stimulate the growth of cancer cells, but also their capacity to invade neighboring tissues.” Furthermore, insulin and IGF have another effect: “They promote the factors of inflammation, which also stimulates cell growth, and acts in turn as fertilizer for tumors.” Read more about sugar and cancer.
Eliminate refined carbs– Minimize consumption of foods with a high glycemic index such as: flour, white rice, potatoes, corn products, and all of the processed products that contain them. These foods are easily converted into glucose which can trigger hormonal changes that can promote cellular growth in breast tissue.
Avoid dairy and meat products– this is because cows are given bovine growth hormone to increase milk production, but this hormone can also effect the growth of cancer. According to a January 1996 report in the International Journal of Health Services, rBGH milk has up to ten times the IGF-1 levels of natural milk.” and, “IGF-1 has also been implicated in prostate and colon cancer.” An article in the ‘Washington Independent,’ quotes internist Jenny Pompilio “even subtle amounts of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) can increase the risk of cancer. It’s been known for years that the particular hormone is linked with cancers (because of its effects) on the endocrine system.” Read more about the use of growth hormones
Alcohol intake -alcohol has a well established risk factor for breast cancer. Consuming more than one alcoholic beverage per day can increase your risk of breast cancer by as much as 20%.
Xenoestrogens– one of the major reasons that breast and endometrial cancers are on the rise in younger women is due to having frequent exposure to xenoestrogens that are so abundant in our everyday environments which have the ability mimic estrogen and compromise normal hormone function. Estrogen, like every hormone that is naturally produced in the body, is a much needed chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another. When combined with natural estrogen, these foreign chemicals can create a situation known as “estrogen dominance.” Examples of everyday xenoestrogens include: exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Bisphenol A from plastic water bottles and containers used to store and heat food, exposure to herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, nail polish, makeup, birth control, certain sunscreen ingredients, etc. The use of these products have the ability to change the rate at which estrogen is broken down by the body or by mimicking estrogen and binding to its receptors in the body. Both scenarios will cause an abundance of estrogen and an increase in the overall effects that it has on the body, leading to symptoms of hormone imbalance. Some of these effects can include early onset puberty, infertility issues, miscarriages, decreased sperm counts, mood swings, headaches, foggy thinking, fatigue, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, digestive issues, gynecomastia (which is the development of breasts in males), estrogen related breast cancers as well as prostate and testicular cancers in men. Read more about estrogen dominance.
Reduce the amount of time that you are wearing your bra– Tight bras severely restrict the circulation of both blood and lymph fluid from circulating throughout the breast area. The circulatory system brings much needed oxygen-rich, nutrient-filled blood to the area. It also removes the accumulated toxins and carbon dioxide. Both are very important and are often impaired by wearing a bra. In the book Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, the authors present some shocking statistics regarding the length of time a woman wears a bra and her increased risk of developing breast cancer.
- Women who wear a bra 24 hours a day have a 3 in 4 chance of breast cancer.
- Women who wear a bra more than 12 hours a day (though not to bed) had a 1 in 7 chance of breast cancer.
- Wearing a bra less than 12 hours a day had a 1 in 152 chance of breast cancer.
- Women who rarely or never wore bras had a 1 in 168 chance of breast cancer.
According to Dr. David Williams, “Wearing a bra at least 14 hours a day tends to increase the hormone prolactin, which decreases circulation in the breast tissue. Decreasing circulation can impede your body’s natural removal of carcinogenic fluids that become trapped in the breast’s sac‐like glands (lymph nodes). These glands make up the largest mass of lymph nodes in the upper part of your body’s lymphatic system.” The mammary glands are filled with lymphatic vessels that move from the breast to the lymph nodes located under the armpit, to the collar bone, and then the thoracic duct. It is through these pathways that the breast drains toxins and keeps its internal environment clean. When something impedes this natural process, the estrogen byproducts become destructive free radicals that can create cellular damage, thus leading to breast cancer. If you must wear your bra, consider wearing one that does not cut tightly under or along the outer edges of the breasts where these milk ducts are located. Also remember to take it off whenever possible to allow your lymphatic system to flow freely.
Exercise– Many studies have shown that regular exercise provides powerful protection against breast cancer. 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) five or more days a week can make a real difference. Read more about the lymphatic system
Maintain a Healthy body weight-Weight gain in midlife has been shown to increase your breast cancer risk. Additionally, an elevated BMI has been shown to increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.
Having children earlier and breast feeding them for longer periods– will help to limit the overall exposure to estrogen over your lifetime.
Avoid these toxins
Aluminum in deodorant– look for natural deodorants that do not contain parabens and aluminum. Aluminum has been found in the nipple aspirations in a high number of breast cancer patients. Once aluminum is absorbed by the skin, it is thought to affect the estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Also do not use anti-antiperspirants but a natural deodorant as you want your body to be able to freely release toxins through sweating.
You can make your own natural deodorant: with essential oils that are mixed with carrier oils and put into amber roll on bottles. I use Lymph Support Essential oil mixed with various other oils, but you can use any combination of oils that appeal to you. You want your body to sweat and release toxins, you just don’t want to smell bad. This works great and one can reapply during the day if needed, but I don’t find that it is necessary. I use the roll on to cover breast and arm pit area and then massage in.
Birth control pills– as these disrupt the natural hormone cycle and create progesterone deficiencies. This can increase a woman’s risk of certain cancers. In particular, cancers of the breast, cervix, and liver, says the National Cancer Institute’s own website. A recent study done with African American women revealed that oral contraceptive use increased the risk of estrogen-receptor positive, estrogen-receptor negative, and triple negative breast cancers. The risk declined after a woman stopped using oral contraceptives, but was still a causative factor for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer for up to 15-19 years after stopping, and even longer for estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Have your hormone levels checked and balanced naturally with the assistance of a natural health practitioner to alleviate hormonal issues.
Cell phones- don’t store your cell phone in your bra. Experts in this field have concerns that cell phone radiation might have a biological effect on human tissues. In 2011, researchers at the National Institutes of Health revealed that low-level radiation from an activated cell phone that was held close to a human head could change the way certain brain cells functioned, even though it did not raise the body’s temperature. The study did not prove that the effect on brain cells was dangerous, only that radiation from cell phones could have a direct effect on human tissue. RF waves from cell phones have also been shown to produce “stress” proteins in human cells. This is according to research from Martin Blank, Ph.D., a special lecturer in the department of physiology and cellular biophysics at Columbia University and another one of the concerned scientist who signed the recent letter to the WHO and U.N. “These proteins are used for protection,” Blank says. “The cell is saying that RF is bad for me and it has to do something about it.” Read more about cell phone radiation here.
Parabens– they are a group of compounds widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including underarm deodorants. Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl and butyl) – are all derived from toluene, a toxic petrochemical derivative. Toluene is toxic if swallowed or inhaled. Parabens are absorbed through the skin, gastrointestinal tract and blood. Measurable concentrations of six different parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors (Darbre, 2004). These particular parabens were found in relative concentrations that closely parallel their use in the synthesis of cosmetic products (Rastogi, 1995). Parabens have also been found in almost all urine samples examined from a demographically diverse sample of U.S. adults. There is some evidence that repeated exposure to toluene may cause reproductive harm. Since 2000, 13 research studies have shown that various types of parabens act like estrogen in animals and in tissue culture. Estrogen is known to drive the growth of cancerous cells.
Take supplements that promote healthy breast tissue: these include zinc, iodine, selenium and magnesium. You can read more about those with this post.
The connection between bras and breast cancer. An interview with Sydney Ross Singer on his book Dressed To Kill: The Link between Breast Cancer and Bras.
How to do lymphatic massage for the breast tissue