2008-10-24 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Breast Cancer Awareness, Part I
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES October is breast cancer awareness month. Every month should be breast cancer awareness month. In fact, every day should be breast cancer awareness day. That is, if you are a woman, know one, love one or shop for one.

Lifestyle choices abound for the prevention of breast cancer. Essentially, we are not hapless victims of circumstance where breast cancer is involved, even if we have a family history. ESPECIALLY if we have a family history, it is incumbent upon us to be aware of how we are living our life in order to prevent breast cancer.

Not just in October, but every day as you plan your meals, your exercise, direct your actions and monitor your reactions to life.

Conscious awareness directs deliberate intent and right action follows. We do know that diet, exercise and decreased levels of stress reduce the risk of breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women both with and without family history of breast cancer. Survival rates are also directly linked to these factors.

So, awareness is not simply about early detection of the fact that you

have the disease. Awareness is early detection of the fact that you can control getting the disease. What do women love more than having control?? OK, shoes. True enough. So, put on those spunky, sexy shoes and go shopping! Straight to the food markets that feature

organic, non-GMO produce; free range, grass fed meats and hormone free dairy products. Oh, and no need to put on any make-up until you read the following facts about the chemicals in your cosmetics that mimic the estrogenic activity that stimulates growth of breast tumors. Remember, beauty radiates from the inside out …. and the shoes will detract attention from the crow's feet.

Besides, it is mostly women doing the food shopping and the female bonding should be a motivating factor to be your naturally beautiful self.

Foods to put into your shopping cart should be organic and pesticide free. If not possible, they must be thoroughly washed in baking soda and warm water and peeled before eating.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, April 1, 2002, PCB's ( polychlorinated biphenals) and dioxins increase the risk of breast cancer by 60-80 percent in premenopausal women. These chemicals are found in pesticides sprayed directly on our produce as well as in the ground soil and our water supplies. They are most prevalent in our food chain in fatty foods. Those premenopausal women, they are our daughters. They may be you. Take a look at your budget and rejigger it so that you can afford to select the organic fruits and vegetables. Even if it means wearing last year's shoes. Believe me, no one will care and in the long run, wouldn't you rather take the risk of looking less than fashionable and saving your daughter or yourself from breast cancer?

That said, swing by the produce department and choose from the cruciferous vegetables. Those are ones in the Brassica family known as Indol-3 carbino (13c). That is, broccoli, (especially broccoli sprouts which are hundreds of times more potent), brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale, turnips, chard. Most dark green leafy vegetables and their greens, like beet greens contain the vitamins and minerals that nourish you and decrease your risk factors. Asparagus, parsley, fennel, onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini and cabbage are all excellent choices. Dandelion greens are especially helpful in supporting your liver to detoxify as is the herb milk thistle. Transporting estrogen effectively out of the system is one way to decrease the buildup associated with some forms of breast tumors. Fiber is another way to do this and so flax seed should be another purchase to make. Throw 2 tablespoons onto your high fiber oatmeal or cereal in the morning and you are good to go! According to one study, eggs decreased the risk of breast cancer in adolescents, suggesting that the high levels of amino acids, vitamins and minerals were the protective factor.

Anti Cancer Research, 2002, March- April, reported that Omega 3 fats had an effect on lowering the risk of breast cancer. The ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats is important here. Omega 3 fats are found in fish oils, high quality virgin olive oils, avocados, coconut oils, organic butter and grass fed and free range meats. (I love the word omega which means "the beginning." It is so life affirming!)

Sugar, that ubiquitous ingredient that some people crave is, of course, a predictor of both recurrence and mortality in breast cancer.

The likelihood was 8 times greater in women with high insulin levels according to a report by the American Meeting of the Society of Clinical Oncologists.

This means that cakes, cookies, candies that are prepackaged and filled with sugar are not a good choice.

We also know that obesity plays a decisive role in increasing risk factors for breast cancer. Move along or go back to produce and buy some wonderful organic sweet fruits.

The role of vitamins in the prevention of breast cancer is a well researched area. Vitamin D3, vitamins E and C and the mineral selenium have been noted as having significant protective effects.

The least synthetic are the best, of course. Do your homework on the Internet and find the best product for you. Remember that the best way to get vitamin D3 is exposure to sunshine. This is not always possible in the winter months especially in the northern hemisphere, so you must supplement that vitamin. It is best to do so after a 25(OH) blood test to determine your levels. They should be greater than 30ng/ml.

Consult with your doctor before supplementing over 10,000 IUs per day.

As you are scurrying up and down the aisles, be aware that exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer also. Cancer, Sept. 15, 2001, reports that older women who exercise 1 hour a day, walking or biking, had a 19 percent reduction in their odds of developing breast cancer.

Before you leave the store, one thought is that cleaning products are a source of harsh and dangerous chemicals. Ordinary baking soda and vinegar does the job in 99 percent of cases. Save the money from expensive cleaners and use it for your organic foods.

Part II of this important column will be published in the November 7 Issue of The Wave.

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