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“Don’t worry about what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and do that.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman

THE WELL WOMAN’S GUIDE TO BREAST HEALTH

As a nurse practitioner in women’s health, I have been overwhelmed with information on the treatment of breast cancer versus the prevention of breast cancer.  What about the incidence of breast cancer that is occurring in 1 out of 8 women??  There is useful scientific data in medical journals that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention.

What can we as women do to protect and promote health in ourselves, our daughters and our granddaughters when only 10% of breast cancer is genetic?  What to do about the 90% of breast cancer that occurs without family history?  I feel that my job/mission is to keep women healthy and to educate them in ways they can use to make decisions using information that is scientifically based.

The enclosed information will address what is known about environmental factors and what we as women can do to protect ourselves.  In other words, let us use the information that is available and apply them to our lives to try to avoid this disease because there are things that we could do if we just knew what they were.  If our health care system can offer only drugs for the treatment of cancer versus life changes for its prevention, we need to be more responsible for our own health.  (See pie chart, p.3)

FOLIC ACID – is considered a protective antioxidant for these changes.  Perhaps it is because alcohol depletes the body of protective antioxidants such as the B vitamins and folic acid.

ORGANIC MILK PRODUCTS – do not contain milk from cows that have been injected with bovine growth hormone.  Limit your consumption of these products.

VITAMIN D3 – or cholecalciferol can be supplemented and helps our bones, mood and helps prevent breast cancer because it is essential for the immune system.  If your levels are low, 400 – 1,000 mg/day is recommended.

OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS from fish and flax seeds and Omega 6 fatty acids from Primrose oil are considered “good” essential fatty acids.

BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE SUPPLEMENTATION (BHRT) – short term use of individualized hormones usually used as creams do not go through the stomach and liver and are absorbed directly into circulation.  Smaller doses are required to achieve goals of symptom relief including, PMS, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats and low libido.

SELF BREAST EXAM – means early detection of abnormalities in the breast.  Monthly breast exams help you to check if your breasts are the same every month
MAMMOGRAMS – are the current standard of care, however they cannot determine the status of dense breasts.

THERMOGRAMS – FDA approved thermal imaging does not use radiation and measures vascular abnormalities through heat generated from breast skin.
MRIs – are the “Gold Standard” for women who have had breast cancer of have suspicious masses.

EXERCISE AND WEIGHT CONTROL – have been proven to reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50%.  Exercise keeps weight in balance and creates better eating habits.

THE FOODS WE EAT – contributes to our body fat which is a risk factor for breast cancer.  Keep weight down, be physical, and stay healthy.  Breast feeding confers a decreased risk of breast cancer increasing with the length of time you breast feed.  Our food choices help to increase our good estrogen balance through estrogen metabolism.  Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussell sprouts, cauliflower, green cabbage and kale all help to modify unwanted estrogen metabolites.  6-9 servings a day of all fruits and vegetables are recommended and will not cause weight gain.

The following factors are considered as increasing the risk of breast cancer because they are thought to be a “catalyst”.  A catalyst is not the actual cause, but is a substance that causes changes that can promote breast cancer.

ALCOHOL – is considered one of those catalysts.  One drink per day can increase the risk of breast cancer.  US Health and Human Services states:  “There is a cause and effect relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer of the breast, pancreas, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.  This is increased in smokers.  Alcohol and cancer is considered to be “dose related” – the greater the consumption – the greater the risk.

PLASTICS – that contain bisphenol A (BPA) is found in plastic water bottles, baby bottles and the lining of aluminum cans.  This chemical is released when heated and leaches out into the fluid it holds.  BPA mimics our hormone estrogen and is taken up by our receptors as an estrogen and can increase the risk of breast cancer.  BPA is stored in fat tissue.  BPA-free plastics and glass are safer to use.  Avoid heating or microwaving food in plastic containers.  Use glass or pottery.

SOY – is considered a plant estrogen because it also mimics our hormone estrogen.  Soy blocks mineral absorption unless it is fermented.  Consumption of soy products in any form may be a breast cancer risk and the evidence is not conclusive.  Eat only Asian type soy from tofu, miso soup or edamame.  Avoid soy protein powders, bars and processed food sources as in soy lecithin, soy protein isolates, soybean oil.
Read labels on any food and avoid soy lecithin, soy protein isolates, soy flour and soy fillers in supplements and vitamins.  Eat any fresh foods that are not packaged such as broccoli and cabbage.

BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE – found in mind, cheese, yogurt and ice cream may lead to an increased risk in breast cancer because it interacts with our own levels of insulin growth factors and is an estrogen mimic.

LOW LEVELS OF VITAMIN D – is an increased risk for breast cancer.  This vitamin is easily measured by a blood test – Vitamin D 15-0H.  Levels below 20 mg/ml are associated with risks of breast, colon and prostate cancer.

HIGH FAT FOODS – from fried foods, baked goods and packaged margarine containing Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) are associated with an increase in breast cancer because they contribute to weight gain.  East non processed foods, fruits, veggies and grain fed animal products.

STATIN DRUGS used to lower cholesterol increase breast cancer risk.

UNOPPOSED ESTROGEN – Estrogen without progesterone can cause cells to multiply.  The balance of progesterone and estrogen, especially one of the human forms of estrogen called Estriol, can be breast protective.  This type of estrogen is used in vaginal preparations to relieve vaginal dryness.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) – uses hormones formulated from animal sources. The studies showed that estrogen from Premarin and Provera (synthetic progestin) increased the risk of breast cancer after 5 years of use in women over 50 years of age.

BIRTH CONTROL PILLS – are non human hormones which can create a risk factor over time for breast cancer.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Yard, D.H. “The Clinical Advisor” 3/2008, Dietary St. – Buddy, T. Abont?.com “Alcohol and Breast Cancer” 22 Nov 2003
Ehrenberg, R. Popular plastics chemical poses another threat: this time  Diabetes “Science News” 13 Sept 2008, pg. 15 Phillips, Owen P., MD Issues in Breast Cancer: Primary Prevention “The Forum” Vol3, Nov 2005 Pgs 11-15.
Braverman, MD “Bridging the Gap Between Science and Medicine “Life Extension” August 2008 “Vitamin D and Cancer” Nurses Health Study Newsletter Vol. 15, 2008
Adverse Effects of Statins – New England Journal of Medicine, 1996, 385
“Breakthrough – Eight Steps to Wellness” by Suzanne Summers, Crown Publishing Group, 9-9-08

WEBSITES:
www.grassrootshealth.org – vitamin D chart for disease prevention
www.breastcancerfund.org – list of known environmental carcinogens that mimic estrogen

BOOKS:
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer, John Lee, MD, David Zava, MD, Virginia Hopkins.
The Miracle of Natural Hormones – David Brownstein, MD

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