Breast health comes into focus this month each year as is evident in the shower of pink ribbons, “Support the Cure” apparel, wrist bands, and bumper stickers. The reminder to be aware of early detection and the focus to find a cure is great, but what are we doing in the meantime to educate and encourage women on how to improve breast health, so that we can decrease the risk for breast cancer before a problem ever has a chance to develop?
Treating the Imbalance Could Prevent a Full Blown War
When one is diagnosed with cancer there are usually 3 options: cut it out, radiate it, or administer chemotherapy…slash, burn, or poison. If it can be removed safely without further complications you won the lottery. The other two options wreak havoc on the body and severely weaken the very thing that needs to be strong if there is any chance of healing – the immune system – sometimes even annihilating total breast health in the process.
It’s tragic that more emphasis is not placed on treating the dis-ease (the body’s imbalance) by first addressing the cause(s) and making the association to things like nutrition, herbs, lifestyle, thoughts and emotions, considering this the basic principle behind treating and healing cancer.
What should be the basis for every cancer treatment protocol continues to be under emphasized, unmentioned, or worse yet…completely discredited – written off because it’s not medicine (100 BILLION dollars was spent on cancer drugs just last year alone). That’s some pretty Big Pharma. Sadly the medical system tries to render us completely powerless over our own health and healing. I don’t blame the doctors themselves (I believe most have good intentions) I blame the confines of the medical industry they are working within.
But what if addressing these imbalances is the very thing that can prevent a battle from ever being waged within our body in the first place? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by focusing on natural breast health and prevention.
The Truth About Genetics and Breast Cancer
Many women believe that breast cancer is genetic and there’s not much we can control about it. The truth is, according to cancer.org when looking at risk factors for breast cancer only about 5% to 10% of cases are thought to be genetic. And less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with it. It can be surprising to learn that hereditary risk is one of the most over-estimated risk factors by women.
According the American Cancer Society’s statistics this means between about 14,000 to 29,000 out of about 292,000 estimated breast cancer cases for 2015 will stem from genetic risk.
Other risk factors include things like age, race, and lifestyle behaviors like diet, smoking, drinking, environment, and emotional health. The reality is breast cancer often happens in women with no risk factors and on the flip side just because one has risk factors doesn’t mean they will get the disease, in fact most that have one or more risks never develop it.
This is not meant to discourage you, but instead encourage you that when we look at the numbers above it means that on the low end, about 263,000 women and on the high end 278,000, could potentially reduce risk factors by making some changes in habits and lifestyles. That’s a huge and exciting prospect.
As women, we need to be aware that there is much we can control through our choices. Please don’t buy in to the “it’s genetic” rule, because knowledge is power and the more we empower ourselves the better choices we will make, and the less risk we will have.
Plus statistics show a three times better outcome when diagnosed with breast cancer by adding nutrition and positive lifestyle changes, so why not allow our bodies internal healing intelligence to be at it’s peak at all times shielding ourselves with the best armor against breast cancer, or any disease for that matter.
In this video, Dr. Christine Horner author of Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner’s Program to Protect Against & Fight Breast Cancer, mentions how making just one lifestyle change has the ability to cut your risk of cancer by about 50% and when adding more changes, the reduction in risk multiplies.
Is Conventional Screening the Answer to Early Detection?
Interestingly, Dr. Horner mentions the flaws in the modern medical treatment of cancer including methods used for detection. She talks about how mammograms are not the answer to prevention and maybe not even detection of breast cancer.
In fact she mentions how the radiation can actually cause cancer and points out that based on a European study published in 2012 being exposed to diagnostic radiation before age thirty increases risk by 90% in women with genetic risk.
For more reasons to reconsider mammography and tomography (3-D imaging that uses three times more radiation), and learn about other methods that Dr. Horner recommends such as a type of ultrasound called elastography and thermography, which she is a huge proponent of, see Dr. Mercola’s article.
Thermography appears to be the best in terms of early detection. It measures your body’s infrared heat, tracking physiological changes and shows it in thermal images. It can detect inflammation and/or tumor related blood flow as early as 8-10 years before it would be seen on a mammogram or detected in a breast exam.
To learn more about the benefits and see actual images of the same cancers that weren’t detected by mammography being detected by thermography click here.
This “heads up” allows ample time to implement new habits and strategies that will get your body on the path to healing before the problem is allowed to take a worse course.
How to Improve Breast Health Naturally
Let me preface these tips for breast health with the importance of regular self-exam, since you know your body best you are the most reliable source in detecting any changes should they arise. For how to self-exam see this article.
Maintain balanced pH levels by eating a whole foods diet rich in alkalizing leafy greens, organic vegetables and fruits, fresh juices and smoothies, healthy fats, and quality proteins. This reduces the risk of an acidic environment, which breast cancer thrives in. Your best option is to avoid acid forming processed foods, refined sugars, white flour, and most grains.
Juicing has huge benefits, carrot juice in particular deserves acknowledgement for it’s ability to kill cancer cells.
Maintain healthy hormones by eating foods like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) containing indole-3-carbinol (DIM) to help break down, metabolize, and move estrogen through the body. This reduces the risk of estrogen dominance, which is a contributing factor in breast cancer.
Reduce exposure to environmental toxins, chemicals and pollution. Avoid excessive exposure to xenoestrogens in commonly used plastics, opt for body and oral care products without synthetic ingredients, and non toxic household cleaners and laundry detergents. All of this reduces the risk of hormone disruptors that increase breast cancer risk.
Aluminum in deodorant and parabens in body lotions are huge concerns being applied directly to the breasts and lymph nodes in the underarms. Parabens have actually shown up in biopsies of breast tumors. No joke – that’s serious.
For my non-toxic homemade deodorant, body care and toothpaste recipes click here.
The increased risk of breast cancer with the use of oral and injectable contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been well studied and documented, furthermore studies have shown that combined hormone therapy after menopause (both estrogen and progesterone for women who still have a uterus) may also increase the chances of dying from breast cancer.
Fortunately women became aware of the risks associated with HRT and following a steady incline in breast cancer rates for more than two decades, the rates began decreasing in the year 2000 and continued to do so through 2003. 2002 was the year the Women’s Health Initiative study was published linking HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease and it was during this time that the number of women using HRT declined.
Recent years have shown incidence rates to be fairly stable.
Exercise regularly. Rebounding on a mini trampoline, brisk walking and light jogging all stimulate the lymphatic system to remove toxins. Yoga, pilates, strength training and cardio all relieve stress. This reduces the risk of lymph fluid build up and clogged lymph nodes and reduces stress levels. Dry skin brushing also stimulates lymphatic system circulation, and so does drinking plenty of purified water.
Avoid smoking. Recent studies have found that long-term heavy smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Avoid excessive alcohol. Compared to non-drinkers women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Consuming 2 to 5 a day increases the risk 1½ times.
Let the girls out as much as possible. Not wearing a bra allows lymphatic circulation to flow and remove toxins from the cells in our bodies. Wearing a bra for more than 12 hours a day increases your risk by 6 times, while going mostly braless reduces risk by 20 times. Elastic and underwire are the culprit and become more troublesome if your bra is too tight or doesn’t fit properly.
So if you have to wear a bra often I would suggest making sure you are properly fitted (many women are wearing the wrong size bra) and opting for wire free bras (like these I love) these are the basic comfort style that still provide support and have removable pads for complete coverage of certain areas that may want to peek out in things like t shirts. They also have styles with thinner straps that work well with tanks.
Resolve old emotional and physical traumas. Develop positive, supportive emotional and spiritual relationships, use healthy self-expression as a positive outlet, surround yourself with love from others, self love and laughter. Managing stress reduces the risk of nutritional deficiencies, a compromised immune system and adrenals which can all be contributing factors to dis-ease.
Some studies link higher rates of breast cancer with women who experience traumatic life events and losses. I even read that a doctor said in his twenty years as a breast surgeon, among all the women he encountered with breast cancer they shared the common thread of encountering some emotional heart-felt trauma, usually within the 2 to 5 year period prior to their diagnosis.
In her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing Dr. Christiane Northrup notes that the major emotions behind breast cancer are “hurt, sorrow, and unfinished emotional business generally related to nurturance.”
She goes on to explain that the energy center that can store the emotions of a “broken heart”, known as the fourth chakra (located between the breasts) can contribute to ill health when we have issues with fully expressing and resolving anger, hostility, joy, love, grief, and forgiveness. Powerful stuff.
Get plenty of good sleep preferably during the same hours every night to allow your body to function at optimal levels, keep your immune system strong and contribute to healthy melatonin levels to help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and reduce risk.
Supplements and Herbs
Make sure to get enough vitamin D-3, there are more studies than ever linking healthy vitamin D-3 levels to decreased risk of breast cancer. It’s suggested to get the natural form of this vitamin from the sun’s golden rays, approximately 20 minutes will supply your daily dose.
Get plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, if you don’t consume enough wild caught fish, consider adding a quality fish oil supplement or flax oil to your daily routine. An extra benefit of flaxseed for breast health are the lignans containing phytoestrogens (flaxseed contains 100 times more lignans than any other plant source) and research shows that women who have the highest level of lignans in their body have the lowest risk of breast cancer.
In a study done at The University of Toronto to learn the effect of flaxseed on estrogen-positive tumors, the result was that the tumors shrank in every woman given flaxseed over a three week period. To find out more about the benefits of flaxseed see this article.
When it comes to herbs for breast health, consider adding curcumin the active part of the herb tumeric for it’s potent cancer fighting ability, to your food when cooking, drink as a tea (try my golden milk recipe), or take in a more concentrated version in capsule form.
For more information on all three of these please see this article.
Consider carefully any medications you’re taking. Virtually all prescriptions can increase cancer risk when taken for extended periods of time. They may work in some ways but at the same time they deplete nutrients in the body creating deficiencies in other ways. For more information and a great pdf reference from the Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook click here.
Consider consulting with your healthcare provider about the potential risk and the possibility of adding nutritionally-supportive therapies. You may want to consider seeking out a qualified natural healthcare provider that works to remedy the underlying causes of symptoms and uses natural remedies instead.
Most of us have experienced the heartache of watching someone or multiple people we love go through breast cancer, or any other cancer, and may have even experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to this ugly disease. Maybe you have gone through it yourself. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the immense strength and courage it takes to fight such a difficult battle and beat it.
My heartfelt hope is that by focusing on our bodies incredible natural healing abilities more women will empower one another to take control of our health and well being, encouraging one another to make self care a priority, passing it on to our children so that the next generation will be equipped to reduce the risk and rate of breast cancer going forward.
It’s a new day all you strong beautiful women, so….go on now and continue to take care of those girls (yes those girls, you know the ones I’m talking about :)
What do you think? Are you feeling empowered enough to take advantage of any of these tips to improve your breast health? Are you feeling the bug to help others become empowered and to spread the love by sharing this?
Spreading the word can save lives.
Note: This article and website is for informational purposes, to share things I personally do to improve breast health and would like to share with other women. It is not meant as a substitute for medical advice or as a claim to treat or cure any disease, or to replace self-exams, screenings or advice from a healthcare provider.