Lately I have been coming across an increasing number of Jordanian women with breast cancer. Usually environmental exposures that they thought negatively affected their body come up in the conversation. Genetics and pollution are two of the most oft mentioned. But during our meetings the many other culprits connected with breast cancer are hardly brought up, if ever, and so I wonder about the level of awareness that Jordanian women have about them. In this article I’ve decided to present a holistic summary of the many factors that influence breast health, whose cumulative load is what brings about cancer in the body. The focus is on the many things women can positively affect rather than the factors they cannot. The information in the summary below is based on Sat Dharam Kaur’s book on breast cancer, “A Call to Women”.
REDUCE TOXIC LOAD
Reducing the exposure to toxins will help enhance immunity and reduce the chance of toxin-induced disease. With respect to breast cancer, it will help avoid excess estrogen and carcinogen exposure. Cancer is caused in part by the action of carcinogens in the presence of too much estrogen, without the opposing balance of its partner hormone progesterone. Estrogen promotes cell division especially in tissues that have a high number of estrogen receptors such as the breast and uterus. As more division occurs, the higher the chance for duplication errors in the DNA causing a variant of the parent cell that can be cancer causing. Carcinogens and excess estrogen from our environment and food increases this change.
Xenoestrogens and other synthetic estrogens:
These are chemicals used in many products that have a similar structure to estrogen therefore mimicing estrogen in our body and leading to an estrogen excess. They are found in pesticides, plastics, drugs, petrochemicals, detergents, solvents, chloring-based chemicals, chlorinated water, lice shampoos. Synthetic estrogens are found in BCP, fertility drugs and HRT and can promote breast cancer. Estrogen mimicers increase our estrogen and estrogen receptors. Increased receptors means more likelihood of estrogen binding to its receptor leading to an activation of protein that cause cell division. An increased rate of cell division increases the likelihood of mutation and cancer.
Animal estrogens are found in animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy. These products naturally contain estrogen and may also have excess estrogen if they were fed or injected with the hormone to increase their growth, fat levels and/or milk prodution. They may also have accumulated xenoestrogens from environmental sources like pesticides over their lifetime.
How to avoid excess estrogen and other toxic exposure:
- Eat organic foods, which are free of pesticides, herbicides and chlorine, which can contribute to breast cancer. Organic foods are also higher in mineral content. The most reliable organic foods are from local farmers that have been investigated.
- Limit exposure to plastic by decreasing use of saran wrap, and plastic Tupperware. At the very least, never heat plastics such as saran wrap or Tupperware when you will be consuming what was in contact with the plastic.
Nutrition is key to our health. Nutrition helps support immunity and prevents against deficiencies, which can lead to disease. With respect to cancer, nutrition enhances immunity – with a weak immune system our body fails to effectively recognize ‘non-self’ cells, such as cancer cells, and so is not as responsive in destroying them.
Diet: Aim to include the following in your diet on a regular basis:
- Organic green tea – tumours as small as a pinhead begin to send out chemical signals that allow tiny blood vessels to supply the tumour so it can grow large. Green tea can prevent formation of these vessels
- Soy – Women are at risk of breast cancer because of their female hormone estrogen. When the estrogen activity in the body is high, the risk for cancer also becomes high. Plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) from soy occupy the estrogen receptor so that estradiol (the strongest, most harmful estrogen) cannot bind. Soy estrogen has a weak estrogen effect. It also increases the production of a molecule that binds estrogen in the blood preventing estrogen from attaching to a receptor where it can exert harmful effects. Phytoestrogens can also protect against osteoporosis, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and supports liver detoxification processes.
- Brassica family foods – brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnip (consume raw or lightly steamed) – contain compounds called indoles which promote conversion of estrogen to the C-2 metabolite (has less activity) and inactivates the C-16 metabolite (a stronger form of estrogen). Note though that cooking destroys indoles
–alternate option: make a juice out of cabbage, carrot and beet together
-1/3 cup of cabbage daily will convert most estrone to the C-2 metabolite (It is known that indoles can inhibit thyroid hormone production, so eat cabbage with a little seaweed to counteract the effect on the thyroid)
-raw brussel sprouts and savoy cabbage have highest amounts of indoles
- Tumeric – use as a spice liberally – assists the liver in detoxification of chemicals and harmful estrogens. It has great anti-inflammatory actions as well.
- sprouts such as mung bean, red clover, soybean, yellow pea, green lentil, chick pea, fenugreek, alfalfa and fava bean – contain significant phytoestrogen content (see above)
- sea vegetables such as nori, arame, hijiki, kelp, dulse, kombu. Kombu is a long been used in Chinese medicine to dissolve tumors. Kelp contains a high amounts of iron, calcium and iodine (essential for the thyroid gland).
- garlic, onion, leeks – garlic has been proven to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and helps prevent the recurrence of many forms of cancer, it contains protective antioxidants; garlic and onions contain sulfur compounds that aid the liver in detoxification
- consume omega-3 fats, found in flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, soy beans, walnuts, dark green leafy veggies. Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease
- dandelion root in salad or as herbal tea – has been shown to help prevent breast cancer, decreases estrogen levels, promotes bile flow and reduces lymphatic congestion. It is high in vitamin A and minerals.
- limit or avoid saturated fats found in red meat, milk, cheese, butter, shortening
- ground flax seeds – eat on cereal, salads, in shakes, etc. Flax seeds are high phytoestrogen content, they act as a fiber source to help improve bowel function and elimination.
|Indole-3-carbinol||-promotes conversion of estrogen to the C-2 metabolite and inactivates the C-16|
|Cal-Mag+D||-calcium critical to bone strength-magnesium is a common nutrient deficiency, helps increase absorption of calcium|
|N-acetyl cysteine||assists the liver in detoxification of chemicals and harmful estrogens|
|Vitamin C and bioflavonoids||-antioxidant to prevent damage to cells, prevents tumour growth, helps improve immunity|
|Multivitamin||Contains numerous minerals and vitamins – Buy one high in beta-carotene. It has been shown to be effective in cancer prevention. Usually have vitamin E as an antioxidant, B6, which decreases estrogen levels while increasing progesterone levels, and is common deficient in cancer patients.|
|Green drinks||Contain many cereal grasses which help alkalinise the body and are rich in beta-carotene|
|Fish oil andFlax oil (on food)
|-strong effect to lowering cholesterol and reduces inflammation-flax oil as toxic effect on cancer cells, prevents them from sticking to other tissues to decrease metastasis
-never heat it
Support optimal liver function: the liver can convert estradiol and estrone to the more protective form of estriol. It also binds estrogen for excretion through stool
- juice of half a squeezed lemon in ½-1 cup warm water in the morning 20 minutes before eating helps to “kick start” liver function.
- consume beets, dandelion, kale and other dark green leafy vegetables
- castor oil packs over liver
Support optimal bowel function to ensure wastes are being eliminated effectively
- include dietary fibre such as legumes, ground flax, ample fruits and vegetables
- drink 1-2 liters of water a day
- never ignore the urge to use the toilet
Improve elimination through the skin:
- Dry skin brushing: purchase a natural bristle skin brush and dry brush before your morning shower; use a circular motion moving from the tips of the extremities towards the heart
- alternating hot and cold shower – improves circulation
– 3 minutes hot followed by 1 minute cool/cold for 3 cycles, always ending on cold; build up to the extremes of temperature
- Saunas: 1-3 times per week – sweating is an effective way to carry toxins out of the body through the sweat
SUPPORT MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
- Support melatonin production through meditation and spirituality. low melatonin levels have been identified in breast cancer patients
- Take supplements and food with thankfulness and prayer to enhance their effectiveness.
- Exercise regularly to help keep mood positive, promote weight loss and prevent weight-related illness.
- Explore support groups or other activities that are of interest or are a passion.