Editor's note: This is the conclusion of a two-part series of submitted columns on holistic approaches to breast cancer and lower estrogen dominance. All views are those of the author. The first column appeared in the Oct. 15 AFN.
The American Institute for Cancer Research says one-third of cancer could be prevented by healthy nutrition, consistent exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight.
• Alkalize your blood by eating approximately 80 percent of your diet from alkaline foods. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment.
• Consume organic foods versus conventional due to their abundance of synthetic pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc. Grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-fee meats. Organic fruits and vegetables contain 50 percent to 80 percent more nutrients than conventionally raised produce.
• Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage. In an animal study at the University of Michigan, it was found that sulforaphane, a compound founding broccoli sprouts, eliminated breast cancer stem cells.
• Fiber from vegetables and low-glycemic fruits. Fiber may help reduce the amount of circulating estrogen in the body.
• Drink only purified water and green tea (at least 3 cups daily). The EGCG in green tea helps prevent breast cancer.
• Keep insulin levels low.
• Mushrooms - A study published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that women who ate 10 grams of button mushrooms/day were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
• Organic, extra virgin olive oil. A Northwestern University study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, found that oleic acid - the main component of olive oil - inhibited activity levels of the Her-2/neu gene. This gene is thought to trigger breast cancer, is associated with highly aggressive tumors and is found in over one-fifth of breast cancer patients.
• Read the entire list of ingredients on all products. You'll be surprised at the number of chemicals, colorings and artificial ingredients.
• Walnuts - the omega-3 fatty acid, phytosterol and antioxidant combination found in walnuts have been shown to prevent cancer.
• Alcohol in excess
• Artificial sweeteners and food additives and chemicals
• Caffeinated products (coffee, tea, chocolate)
• Deli and luncheon meats, and anything else that contains sodium nitrates
• Estrogen precursors such as non-organic meats and dairy products
• Excess iron, especially after age 50
• Overcooked foods
• Processed soy products
• Refined carbohydrates, trans fats, sugars, HFCS and hydrogenated vegetable oils, Sugar is a food source for cancer. A study in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers, and Prevention found that refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup) are linked to cancer. The study of more than 1,800 women in Mexico found that those who got 57 percent or more of their total energy intake from refined carbohydrates had a 220 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who ate more balanced diets.
• Storing your food and beverages in plastic containers; the estrogen-like compounds in the plastic can make their way into the foods and liquids. Instead use Pyrex glass containers.
• Breastfeeding versus formula feeding. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, "women with a history of breast cancer are 59 percent less likely to reduce their risk of breast cancer simply by breastfeeding their child."
• Reduce your body fat
• Determine your hormone levels. Suggested urine test: 2/16 OH estrogen (this inexpensive test measures estrogen metabolites. A low 2/16 indicates a high risk of estrogen sensitive cancers. Suggested serum lab tests: Female Hormone Profile, Pregnenolone, Total Estrogens, DHEA-S, Progesterone, Testosterone (total). Male Hormone Profile: Pregnenolone, Total Estrogens, DHEA, Progesterone, Bioavailable Testosterone, Testosterone (total and free). Both male and female should test: Thyroid panel, T3 Uptake, T4, T7 and TSH, Vitamin D - 25 (OH)D, Male: PSA (Test at age 50 for Caucasian; age 40 for African American)
• Go braless occasionally. Bras restrict the flow of lymph.
• Improve your mood naturally and get off antidepressants, which raise aromatase.
• Campaign against pesticide use in schools and workplaces. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of xenoestrogens.
• Monthly breast self-exams and breast massage.
• Sleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for seven to eight hours of restful sleep.
• Sleep in complete darkness.
• Spend time in a sauna at least once a week
• Spend time outdoors in sunlight without sunscreen 10 to 30 minutes daily
• Work a first shift.
• Test for heavy metal toxicity.
• Store plastic water bottles in a cool dark place.
• Use natural pest control in your home and garden.
• Test iron and ferritin levels - extra iron is toxic as we age, a potent oxidant, increasing free radicals and raises risk of cancer.
• Thermograms over mammograms. Thermography uses an infrared camera, and is risk-free (no radiation) and painless. Thermograms can detect the possibility of breast cancer earlier, whereas mammograms cannot detect a tumor until it's been growing for years. In development is a new blood test that may be more effective than mammograms.
• Conventional mammograms and opt for the safer, more effective Thermograms. Mammograms give false negative 10 percent of the time, false positives 20 percent of the time.
• Synthetic flea shampoos, flea collars and flea pesticides for your pets and homes.
• Chemicals. There are at least 200 known chemicals that studies have shown are linked to breast cancer. View the list here: http://sciencereview.silentspring.org/mamm_browse.cfm.
• Pesticide exposure - The molecular structure of some pesticides closely resembles that of estrogen. This means they may attach to receptor sites in your body. It's a known fact that women with elevated levels of pesticides in their breast tissue have a greater breast cancer risk.
• Estrogen precursors such as plastic bottles, chemical-laden cosmetics, lotions and cleaning products. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a widely used industrial chemical that has been directly "linked" to reproductive abnormalities and an increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Avoid plastics: water bottles, plastic gallon milk bottles, plastic microwavable plates, ovenware and utensils, tooth sealants, baby toys, bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups, and canned foods. If plastic container doesn't state "made with LDPE (low density polyethylene) plastic, which is BPA-free, it most likely has BPA. A 2006 study in the journal Chemistry & Biology found a link between the plastic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and breast cancer.
Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Daily, sensible exercise and deep breathing provide more oxygen down to the cellular level. Include walking, rebounder and strength training. Bouncing on a rebounder for two minutes every hour is good therapy for preventing or treating cancer. One hour after rebounding, white blood cells count normalizes. Rebounding every hour boosts your immune system by flushing the lymphatic system. Exercise balances your insulin levels. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
• Reduction in body fat
• Rebounding on a mini trampoline to increase lymphatic circulation and detox.
• Exercise one hour daily. Consistent physical exercise reduces breast cancer risk according to numerous studies.
• Lift weights three times per week. Higher levels of strength are associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
• These two supplements should be part of everyone's supplement protocol to prevent disease and improve health.
1. Omega-3 fish oils - make sure you supplement with a quality brand that is free of toxic heavy metals, PCBs and other chemicals. Research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that postmenopausal women who take fish oil supplements may lower their risk of the most common type of breast cancer (invasive ductal breast cancer) by 32 percent.
2. Vitamin D - prevents and reduces 78 percent of all cancers. Vitamin D suppresses growth of breast cancer by blocking and enhancing signals that inhibit cancer cell growth and by altering gene regulators of the cell cycle.
• Calcium d-glucarate supports liver detoxification of excess estrogen. The liver also needs B vitamins, particularly B6, to detoxify excess estrogen.
• Ensure healthy gut flora with probiotics
• Evening Primrose or borage oil
• Green tea
• Increase progesterone levels with herbs such as Chaste tree berry. Bioidentical progesterone decreases the risk of breast cancer.
• Iodine/Iodide combination
• Resveratrol - The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry demonstrated high antitumor and estrogenic activity of resveratrol. Researchers compared resveratrol to other phytoestrogens and found that it increased cancer-cell death more than any of the others.
NATURAL ESTROGEN BLOCKERS - BOTANICALS:
• Calcium d-glucarate - helps liver detoxify excess estrogen out of the liver (500mg 3x/day).
• DIM - helps breakdown and metabolize estrogen (women: 100-200 mg/day; men: 200-400mg/day).
• Grapeseed extract (reduces up to 80 percent of aromatase).
• Green tea
• Indole-3 Carbinol
• Melatonin - anti-aromatase inhibitor (1mg) and potent antioxidant
• Myomin - an aromatase inhibitor that effectively reduces excess estradiol and reduces fibroid cysts.
• Nettle Root - blocks estrogen uptake in the prostate.
• Passion Flower
• Resveratrol - natural anti-aromatase inhibitor and block estrogen receptor sites.
• Synthetic supplements and prescription drugs
• Excessive iron through supplements, diet and cast iron cookware. Iron is toxic as we age.
• If you're using birth control pills or synthetic estrogens such as Premarin educate yourself on what these drugs do to your body, particularly your hormonal system, your gut and your immune system. Provera has been linked to blood clots, fluid retention, acne, rashes, weight gain, depression, certain cancers and other disorders.
• Anti-estrogen drugs such as Tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptive modulator. This drug comes with a number of side effects including blood clots, strokes, dizziness, hot flashes, sexual problems, stroke, cataracts, leg swelling, mood swings and vision problems according to The National Cancer Institute. Tamoxifen has also been linked to endometrial and uterine cancer. Research shows tamoxifen increases the risk of the women developing a second and far more dangerous type of breast cancer by a stunning 440 percent published in the journal, Cancer Research.
Estrogen dominance is complex health condition; however, by implementing and following the above you can decrease estrogen dominance and reduce your risk of estrogen dominant cancers. Cancer may be caused from environmental factors, diet and genetics. Diet and nutrition, stress management, exercise and sunlight are preventative measures for 90 percent of all health related diseases/conditions. Now is the time to take control and responsibility for your health with nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and supplements.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 20 years of experience. Visit Paula at www.PaulaOwens.com.