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Progesterone and Cancer Prevention

Posted by on in Breast Health

 

Many articles and papers have been written that implicate estrogen in connection to breast cancer. While this is a well accepted factor now in treatment of breast cancer, less written about is the importance of progesterone for the prevention of breast cancer.  

 

Progesterone reduces estrogen’s stimulating of breast cancer growth with several well known biochemical events that lead to tumour growth: 

 

Progesterone increases the level of enzymes that convert cancer prolific estrogen (estradiol) to inactive cancer protective estrogen (estrone sulfate).

Progesterone inhibits estrogen activity in the breast tissue and decreases the probability of clotting. 

Progesterone prevents angiogenesis known to be a major contributor in early stage of breast cancer tumour formation and growth.

Progesterone prevents vasodilatation caused by excess estrogen and thus acts as an anti metastatic agent

Progesterone activates natural killer cells that function as in immune defence mechanism destroying cancer cells.

Progesterone has a calming effect, helps with perceived  stress, thus lowering cortisol production by the adrenals

Here’s the critical point about progesterone for breast cancer prevention: synthetic progestins promote breast cancer and heart disease, while natural progesterone beneficially lowers breast cancer and heart disease risk. Progestin (synthetic) is NOT Progesterone (natural). Unfortunately many physicians believe progestins to be equivalent to progesterone. This is a mistake.

 

The enzymes needed to metabolize progesterone are present in the human body, not so with progestin. Further, the biochemical structures of several synthetic progestins have carbon-carbon bonds, which are not present in the hormones that humans have. Thus synthetic progestin has well known detrimental effects on women’s health while progesterone has beneficial effects on breast health and cancer prevention.

  

Of course, your breast cancer prevention strategy has to include other contributing factors, such as healthy diet, physical activity, avoidance of pollutants, stress reduction and possibly natural progesterone therapy. Investigate and see if this will work for you.

 

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A new study came out recently challenging the value of breast screening with mammography. Not surprisingly it points to a serious problem of over diagnosis related to mammography screening. In other words, women are being diagnosed and aggressively treated for breast cancer even though what was found in the mammogram was never going to be a life threatening health problem. 

 

However, even more stunning, this study concludes that “Breast cancer screening was not associated with a reduction in the incidence of advanced cancer.”  Wow, think about this for a moment and consider what this means. It blows the entire paradigm of 'early detection saves lives' completely out of the water.

 

Please follow the links below to the published study and come to your own conclusions:

 

http://www.healthimaging.com/topics/womens-health/breast-imaging/danish-study-challenges-value-screening-mammography-draws-sharp-criticism-us-orgs

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/one-three-women-diagnosed-breast-cancer-wrongly-study-n704941

 

It is important to understand the limitations of mammography screening and focus more on prevention. When it comes to prevention, there are many options available to you. Many of the blog postings and articles on this site are related to the subject of breast cancer prevention. I invite you to explore them.

 

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Recently giving a talk on breast cancer prevention I was asked what would be the number one most important thing when it comes to breast cancer prevention. I quickly ran through the list of well-known subjects in my mind, just like the ones we’ve been discussing in the past 9 days through this blog series. Suddenly I stopped when I came to realize that we already have been given the greatest power to heal and prevent disease – our mind and the power of thought. 

According to Dr. Hans Selye, a great physician, — “disease is the body’s inability to deal with mental, emotional or physical stress.” In other words, it is not the stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.

If you’re stressed or have something negative on your mind, the brain will respond differently than when you are relaxed and in harmony with your environment. Amazingly, when you’re in harmony, your body actually produces chemistry that supports your immune system. The chemistry of protection and healing can only occur in this, harmonious, or, parasympathetic mode. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton writes in his fascinating book, Biology of Belief: “How I see the world and my perception controls not just internal biology and genetic behaviour but it controls how I create a world around me. Your mind’s perception of the world changes the biology and chemistry of your own body, which changes cells in your body.” 

I invite you to maintain a positive conversation with your-self, despite all your past failures and disappointments. This is, of course, very difficult. Try to accept criticism by someone you respect and use it as a base for further self-development and self-discovery. But also try to keep a conscious awareness of the things that make you wonderful and loveable. Don’t hesitate to give your-self encouragement, even if it isn’t coming from others. Remind yourself of your previous accomplishments. Tell yourself you can do it. Decide to be your own biggest supporter, even when you make mistakes or fail. This will definitely improve your sense of self-approval and acceptance over time. 

Remember that by changing your perception, you can actually change your life. To quote Gandhi who said that, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - This is a myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves.” 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

 

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When was the last time your doctor asked you about your dental health?

 

Despite multiple research studies that link root-canal treated teeth to cancer and other chronic disease, the majority of people, and sadly even health care professionals, do not pay enough attention to dental health. 

 

When it comes to the root canal procedure, the current convention is to save a tooth at any cost. It does not, however, consider the logic of leaving a dead, filled tooth inside the body. If this scenario involved any other part of the body, say your hand, it would not even be debated. But when it comes to teeth, the same logic that prevails in other body parts usually disappears.

 

Chronic inflammation has been accepted as “the silent killer” that leads to chronic disease, heart disease, and cancer. Root canals are inherently susceptible to infection and inflammation. As a matter of fact, this is what initially led to the problem; infection. People living with a chronic source of infection and inflammation will eventually find that their immunity is affected. In some cases, this chronic inflammation and infection will actually promote the growth of malignancy. The natural defense mechanism to fight malignancy is impaired since the immune system is busy dealing with inflammation that has no chance of resolving on its own. The only way this problem can be resolved is by identifying and removing the cause. The infected area has to be properly dealt with before the body can be restored to health.

 

Remember that, in the body, the mouth is the largest cavity that is continuously exposed to outside influences and the environment. So, when was the last time your doctor asked you about your dental health? If the answer is “never”, perhaps itʼs time to re-evaluate your health issues and consider this question. Take the initiative and investigate. It can help in restoring your health and prevent breast cancer.

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

 

 

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Avoid (HRT) Hormone Replacement Therapy. 

HRT increases the risk of Breast Cancer. In 2002, a huge double blind placebo study called “Women's Health Initiative” sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) was stopped early because it was proven during the study that HRT causes breast cancer. 

Natural Bio-identical hormones on the other hand are safe. They are made from botanical plants such as soy and yams. These plants are pharmaceutically processed to produce natural bio-identical progesterone or estrogen derivatives; they may come in cream or oral forms. 

It is not difficult to determine if one needs some form of hormone balancing – if you feel perfectly well and have no symptoms it is very unlikely that you need to do or change anything. However, a large number of peri-menopausal women suffer from the following symptoms: fatigue, pre-menstrual breast tenderness, fibrocystic breast condition, short menstrual cycle (less than 28 days), anxiety, headaches, sleep disorders, low libido, depression and PMS. Women in menopause may have some of these symptoms in addition to hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and memory loss. If some of these complaints are present in a patient it is important to identify any hormonal deficiencies. 

We can carefully monitor most hormone levels with blood tests, although they are not as reliable as saliva tests, which measure bio-available free-hormone levels, or 24-hour urine collection, which looks at what is excreted through metabolites over a 24 hour period. Once identified, single or multiple hormone deficiencies can be corrected by the use of bio-identical hormones, which have an anti-aging action by the nature of their activity. 

The effect of these hormones is dose specific, however in nature more is not necessarily better – if the hormones are prescribed in too high a dosage, they can cause adverse effects. Many women, hearing of the great effects of progesterone, decide to self medicate.  A word of caution here needs to be made – some progesterone products on the market have very little or no effect. Compounding pharmacies have a reliable and consistent product; however this would require a prescription from your doctor. 

Bio-identical hormone therapy should never be taken orally as it can result in many unwanted side effects. Transdermal (through the skin via a cream) is much safer and more effective because it bypasses your liver and avoids many side effects. I have been very fortunate to learn a lot about hormones from my extraordinary friend Dr. Alvin Pettle - ObGyn. You can learn more about bio-identical hormone therapy from this world renowned expert by visiting his website www.drpettle.com

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

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Avoid and limit your exposure to Xeno-Estrogens. 

 

What are Xeno-Estrogens? The word Xeno is derived from the Greek word – meaning foreign. These are chemicals and industrial pollutants that mimic the effects of estrogen on your body. Your body has many estrogen cell-receptor sites that operate like a lock and key mechanism. When your own estrogen comes in and binds to a receptor it creates an affect on your body by giving a certain signal (a chemical message). When xeno-estrogen, which mimics estrogen, occupies that cell-receptor site, it also creates an affect on your body by giving a signal. However, the signal given by the xeno-estrogen is not the same but, in fact, it is many times more powerful. Thus, the reaction in your body is going to be very different compared to your own estrogen chemical message.  

 

These xeno-estrogens are a major contributing factor leading to early puberty and many other disorders of the reproductive system.  Of course these foreign estrogens will have a huge deleterious effect on the breast tissue. It is no coincidence that the advent of use of xeno-estrogens in our environment about 70 years ago coincides with the sharp rise in breast cancer incidence. 

 

For your reference, I’m including a short list of environmental estrogens:

 

Atrazine is widely used as an herbicide to control broad-leaf weed species that grow in crops such as corn, sugarcane, hay and winter wheat. Atrazine is also applied to Christmas trees, residential lawns, golf courses, and other recreational areas.

 

BPA (Bisphenol A) is the monomer used to manufacture polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used as a lining in most food and beverage cans. 

 

DDT ( Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was used in pesticides for agriculture until it was banned in 1972 in the United States. Unfortunately, DDT continues to be used in many parts of the world for agricultural use, insect control and to fight the spread of malaria.

 

Dioxin, a group of highly toxic chemicals discharged into waterways from pulp and paper mills. Consumption of animal fat is the primary pathway for human exposure.

 

Endosulfan is an insecticide used on numerous vegetables, fruits, cereal grains and trees. Human exposure occurs through food consumption or ground and surface water contamination.

 

PBB (Polybrominated biphenyls) are chemicals added to plastics used in computer monitors, televisions, textiles and plastics foams to make them more difficult to burn.  Although manufacturing of PBBs in the United States stopped in 1976, since they do not degrade easily PBBs continue to be found in soil, water and air.

 

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) were manufactured primarily for use as insulating fluids and coolants given their chemical stability, low flammability and electrical insulating properties. PCBs were banned in 1979 but like DDT continue to persist in the environment.

 

Phthalates is used in flooring, wall coverings and medical device such as intravenous bags and tubing. Phthalates are found in perfumes, lotions, cosmetics, varnishes, lacquers and coatings including timed releases in pharmaceuticals.

 

Zeranol is currently used as a growth promoter for livestock in the USand Canada. It has since been banned in the EU since 1985, but is still present as a contaminant in food through meat products. 

 

As you can see, xeno-estrogents are prevalent in our environment as they are present in our water supply, food chain, cosmetics, cooking utensils, cleaning agents, and the list goes on. We no longer live in a pristine environment and thus not only humans but also animals are affected by this rapid change of thousands of dangerous chemicals entering our daily lives. So, protect yourself from these dangerous substances as much as possible. Educate yourself about xeno-estogens and try to avoid them when possible.

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

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Many people know that October is touted as “breast cancer awareness month.” However, if we really want to make a significant difference in breast cancer statistics we should be emphasizing breast cancer prevention and not just in October but every month of the year. Here is a simple and effective way to significantly reduce your risk.  And, you do not need to raise money to attain this.

 

Studies have shown repeatedly that three to four hours per week of regular exercise can decrease your risk of breast cancer by up to 50%. In other words, your lean body mass or your muscle does not generate estrogen like fatty tissue. If you’re physically active already, this is great. However, whether you have a few extra pounds to lose or not, I encourage you to simply start walking on daily basis. You do not need to join a health club or purchase special exercise equipment. Just start with a minimum of 20-30 minutes walk per day. You can do it alone or with a friend, you can do it outside or inside. 

 

The hardest thing in any journey is to start.  And even more challenging is consistency. But if you are aware of the benefits, you’ll see it is worth doing what it takes to start, and to be consistent. Human bodies are designed for movement and if you want to stay in shape you have to move. Just 30 minutes per day is not really asking for much but the benefit that you’ll gain from this is immeasurable. Add a few more minutes to your daily walk every other week, extend your walks to 40 minutes or more. The great thing about taking yourself for a long walk is that you always come back changed; try it and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

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This year close to 250,000 women in North America will die from breast cancer. This is not just a mere number; these are our mothers, spouses, sisters and daughters that are afflicted by this disease.  Despite all of the efforts to reduce this tragedy, more and more women and their families are affected by breast cancer today. 

 

Currently the strategy of screening is not enough to protect women from breast cancer.

We need to refocus our strategy; moving from screening to risk assessment. Simply put - screening can only tell us what already happened (detection). Risk assessment, on the other hand, can tell us what is about to happen (prevention). It is a paradigm shift where prevention beats detection all the time.

 

Think about it, if you are heading in the wrong direction concerning your breast health wouldn’t you want to know this at the earliest possible time? 

Yes, every woman should know her risk for breast cancer. 

 

Mammography can be useful as a diagnostic tool when necessary but as a mass screening method it has not been effective. Mammography has been the most controversial test for the past 40 years.  Women have been deceived by the notion that routine mammography screening saves lives. It does not. Numerous long-term studies question the effectiveness of mammography mass screening since cancer is frequently missed or often over-diagnosed. 1. 2. 3. 

Younger women with dense breast tissue along with women with fibrocystic breast condition derive little or no benefit from conventional screening with mammography. Even women over the age of 50 may not benefit from mammography screening since it takes 8 to 9 years or longer for a tumor to grow to a size that is detectable by a mammogram. This is hardly an early detection paradigm that we were led to believe; this is in fact late detection. 

 

I have been advocating for many years that we need a more personalized approach where women can assess their risk for breast cancer.  Once they are able to determine their risk factors they can develop an action plan on how to improve breast health or even reverse the existing trend. Breast Thermography can play a great role in early detection and risk assessment. Breast thermography is non-invasive, radiation-free and a completely safe method that compliments all other types of breast testing modalities. 

 

Breast Thermography evaluates how breasts function and can give an early warning signal that may be life saving. Once the risk level is assessed with breast thermography you can develop strategies of lowering these factors before cancer has a chance to develop. You can also monitor your treatment progress with breast thermography and see if you’re on the right path or if you need to make some adjustments to your therapy. When used correctly, breast thermography can be an indispensable tool in breast health monitoring and over-all breast cancer prevention plans. 

 

Prevention should take precedence over detection. Prevention means not getting cancer in the first place. If we are going to reverse the present trend of the epidemic proportion of breast cancer, we need to come up with a more proactive approach, which needs to become the norm for patient assessment.

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

 

 

1. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1206809#t=article

2. http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.g7773

3. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/07/20/does-mammography-save-lives-thats-a-harder-question-than-most-think/)

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I’ll make a bold statement:  low functioning thyroid gland, or what is known as hypothyroid condition, usually precedes most breast conditions. By correcting this problem as early as your first symptoms develop, you will decrease your risk of developing breast cancer and improve your breast health. 

Women are more likely to develop thyroid disease than men. In fact, women are eight times more likely to suffer from a dysfunctional thyroid during their lifetime than men. Most thyroid dysfunctions start in the peri-menopausal and menopausal stages, when the endocrine system experiences many changes. Countless women will make the same complaint: "I'm gaining weight”; “I have no energy”, “I feel chilled all the time”. 

After seeing  a medical doctor, many women are assured that there is nothing wrong with their thyroid gland, because the blood test results were within a “normal” parameter. How could it be that the symptoms and complaints are irrelevant, while demanding attention, yet the blood results do not support the obvious? Could it be that the current tests are not complete or thorough? 

A common connection often overlooked is that proper thyroid function also depends on proper function of the adrenal glands. Adrenals become physically exhausted after prolonged stress or a prolonged illness. Therefore if adrenals are not functioning well,thyroid issues won’t get resolved either. 

Another contributing problem to an under-active thyroid is estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance decreases the function of the thyroid gland. Since the organs of the endocrine system are interdependent, the hypo-function of one organ will have a cascading effect on the rest of the system. Estrogen and progesterone imbalance, which frequently starts in peri-menopause, is often overlooked as a contributing factor to thyroid dysfunction. 

How can YOU be sure?

You can use different methods to check your thyroid and adrenal function, including blood, saliva and urine tests. Your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) may be in the ‘normal’ range and because of this you may not be getting proper treatment. Make sure, when  testing, to also check Free T-3,T-4 as well as Thyroid antibodies.  DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and Cortisol levels are also important indicators of adrenal function. If you have high cortisol output and low DHEA you most likely have other hormonal issues as well. 

 

Seek the help and work with a healthcare practitioner who can test properly and is able to support you with a holistic approach. It is very important that you are treated as a whole rather than just a part that is dysfunctional.

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

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Let’s get to the heart of the matter - stress and emotional trauma play a major role in most health conditions. Breast cancer, of course, is no exception. Keep in mind that stress, or even perceived stress, puts your body into a fight or flight response.  This state is under the control of our autonomic nervous system, which in turn has two branches, the sympathetic and para-sympathetic systems. As you will see, each one has a specific function. 

 

To simplify matters I’ll use the following analogy - Sympathetic System will be termed as a fight or flight state while Para-Sympathetic System we will call a wine and dine state. Each one has a specific function to regulate. For instance, if you walk down a street and someone is trying to mug you, your sympathetic nervous system will kick in. You’ll have a chance to fight or get out of this situation by running away. In either case your major muscle groups will get more blood supply. Your breathing is going to be shortened, your mouth will get dry, your digestive process is going to be shut down, your heart is going to palpate faster, you bladder and bowels will contract and your cortisone (adrenaline) levels will be released to their maximum. This is a very efficient way to make sure that you survive whatever challenge you’re facing at the moment. 

 

By contrast your Para-Sympathetic nervous system is the exact opposite in function. As you wine and dine your breathing slows down, your heart rhythm slows down, you start secreting saliva and you are ready to digest and eliminate as you are in a relaxed state. 

 

The reason why I’m illustrating the function of our Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic systems is very important because most of us appear to be in a Sympathetic mode most of the day. We eat on the run, drink coffee during our commute, and deal with stressful or unpleasant situations at home or at work.  Obviously all this stress will affect us. In my opinion, this daily grind is slowly killing us, since we are not able to digest or eliminate properly, while our high cortisol levels create inflammation in our body and turn everything we eat into fat, as our hormonal levels are stressed and become imbalanced.

 

Furthermore, it is not only daily occurrences and actions that force us into a sympathetic mode but more so our anxious or negative thoughts can trigger the same response. It occurs to me that this is one of the major reasons why we get sick and age prematurely and it is all because we live in a Sympathetic or a fight or flight world. 

 

Let me state this unequivocally; your emotions and thoughts will directly influence your physical health. Thus to attain good health, your emotions and your thoughts need to support your-well being.  In all my years of clinical practice I have never seen a healthy individual whose emotions are in disarray or whose mental state is not at ease.  Thus we call it dis-ease

 

So, what can you do?

First and foremost, create a plan of action on how you’re going to de-stress in a healthy way. Perhaps going for a walk or spending time listening to music or reading a book or meditating, whatever it is that you find enjoyable and relaxing will work to de-stress. Make sure that you create that daily ritual for yourself; this would be a place of refuge and personal healing. 

 

Next, take account of past emotional traumas or conflicts that have not been resolved. Get help from a professional if required or talk to your trusted friend or a family member and ask them for direction.  Be open and willing to accept advice, after all - there is always room for improvement and personal change.  Change could be very challenging for most of us. However, it can also be the most rewarding aspect that can bring us to better health, happier life and self-fulfillment. 

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

 

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It’s all about food… and it happens to be one of my favourite subjects. 

 

Let’s face it, there is no other activity that we do more frequently in our life than eating. I don’t think that anyone has any doubts that we become what we eat. 

 

According to the World Health Organization and many other sources, 70% of all diseases are directly related to nutrition and diet.  If you want to prevent disease, and in particular breast cancer, I suggest the following simple way:

 

Eating low saturated fat with high fiber has been shown to be beneficial for breast health. 

 

As you know, I’m a big proponent of the Anti-Estrogenic diet, which simply means that you avoid estrogen-promoting foods. 

 

How to do this? Start eating foods lower on the food chain, foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, roots, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Choose wild fish or fresh dairy, both are permissible.  (you can learn more about this in my book Breast Cancer is a Preventable Disease, Chapter 2 – Nutrition)

 

Now, what’s not permissible? Stay away from processed grains. In fact, stay away from processed foods, period. Processed grains, sugar, overfed farm animals, refined, processed or chemically-loaded foods, these are foods that you need to stay away from. Try to eat organic whenever possible. Further, home cooking is much preferred to eating out for obvious reasons. The energy that goes into food preparation is very important and it is just impossible to attain that with commercially prepared foods. 

 

Unfortunately, lately because of conflicting information our relationship with food has changed, where food has become the enemy. It is the exact opposite; food is the most powerful medicine you have at your disposal. Keep this in mind as you’re making your food choices. 

 

Lastly, consider this: the foods that that you eat are important but what’s even more important are the thoughts that you have while eating! Stay tuned for more on this tomorrow!

 

Meanwhile, take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to Prevent Breast Cancer NOW!

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In his best selling book ‘What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer’, Dr. John R. Lee gets to the bottom of why women get breast cancer and how to prevent it.  According to Dr. Lee, one of the most important risk factors associated with breast cancer is Estrogen Dominance that seems to affect more and more women these days.

 

By taking a closer look at this we can see that not all estrogens are created equal; some are cancer protective while others are cancer-permissive. There are three main estrogens in your body: estrone, estradiol and estriol. The ratio in your body should be: Estriol 80%, Estradiol 10% and Estrone 10%. 

 

As long as they’re in that ratio, everything seems to be working fine. Estriol is a hormone of pregnancy and when women are pregnant, they are protected from breast cancer as well as many other diseases. Estradiol, on the other hand, is a cancer-permissive estrogen and too much of this particular estrogen definitely increases the risk for breast cancer. 

 

To oppose your estrogen there is another hormone called Progesterone. Estrogen and Progesterone are in a yin and yang relationship. Estrogen says ‘grow’, while progesterone says ‘stop growth’. Most women in the peri-menopausal and menopausal stages of their life appear to be progesterone deficient and thus become estrogen dominant. 

 

What can you do?  How do you know if you’re estrogen dominant or progesterone deficient? There is no need to guess, test it. 

 

Make sure that you get the proper hormonal testing done and check your estrogen levels but also check your progesterone levels as well. Your estrogen may even be in a low range but if there is no progesterone in your body, you are still estrogen dominant. There are several ways to check this; blood test (most common), saliva and urine. Saliva and urine tests maybe useful since you can take samples over a period of time and thus giving you additional information as to your hormonal fluctuation during your monthly cycle. Blood tests are somewhat static as they can only provide you with the information for the period of time when the test was done. Once you get tested you can start correcting your hormonal imbalance by regulating your estrogen metabolism or supplementing with progesterone if required. 

 

Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

 

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Stress, Adrenals and Breast Cancer

Posted by on in Breast Health

 

I often get this question from patients, “Can stress cause breast cancer?”

 

Nothing can affect your adrenal function more than stress. Under prolonged stress or duress your adrenals will produce high levels of cortisol and have a low DHEA output. It is a well known fact that increased levels of cortisone and decreased levels of DHEA are usually present in breast cancer patients. 

 

There are different types of stress that we all experience; emotional, mental, psycho-spiritual, physical, chemical, nutritional, and traumatic. 

 

This article will only deal with three types of stress – emotional, mental and psycho-spiritual.

 

The emotional type of stress that contributes to breast cancer is most likely related to traumatic events like death of a loved one, history of child abuse, and emotional suppression.

 

Mental stress usually can manifest as anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, sadness, fear, perfectionism, etc.

 

Psycho-Spiritual stress can be the result of spiritual misalignment and general state of unhappiness. 

 

Any type of stress and subsequent high levels of cortisol cause Estrogen Dominance, which is a hallmark of breast cancer. There are several ways in which stress causes Estrogen Dominance.

 

Insulin resistance - A high level of cortisol causes insulin resistance along with resistance to thyroid hormones. In turn this leads to weight gain and additional estrogen burden. 

 

Aromatase activity – A high level of cortisol increases aromatase activity in fatty tissue that converts androgens to estrogens.

 

Ovarian dysfunction - Stress causes ovarian dysfunction that leads to luteal insufficiency and subsequent estrogen dominance.

 

Low Melatonin levels - Stress and high levels of cortisol have an inverse affect on melatonin production at night. Low melatonin levels result in overproduction of estrogens and activates estrogen receptors in breast cells.

 

So, what can you do to get out of the vicious circle of prolonged stress?

 

Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:  

 

Start practicing relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation and visualization to help you let go of your mental worries.

 

Start a regular fitness program. Physical activity is one of the best ways to clear tension and build energy. Even regular walking can help you get rid of a lot of stress.

 

Change you perceptions and attitudes. Holding on to frustrations, grudges or being a victim are not in your own best interest. If your existing ideas and views are not serving you, perhaps it is time to examine them and change them.

 

Express your feelings. Let’s face it, unexpressed emotions can and often do lead to pain and illness. Emotions need regular and healthy venting.

 

Develop good relationships. Friends in whom you can confide and find support are indispensable. We all need support from time to time, yet it is just as rewarding to give as well as to receive support.

 

Eat nourishing food that supports your body’s natural immune system.  This in turn will help in the healing process and help you cope with other sources of stress.

 

Finally, Have More Fun. Schedule regular activity that you enjoy whatever it is. Some like listening to music or painting or reading poetry or walking in the park, anything that creates that place of refuge for you. I truly believe that this is the place of true healing for us.

 

I encourage you to pick one of these suggested practices, and try it on this week…

 

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Can You Prevent Breast Cancer?

Posted by on in Breast Health

Recently someone emailed me a question from a woman who was upset to find out that there is such a thing as breast cancer prevention. She was upset that many women may be misled by this notion, especially women who have genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Although I understand the sentiment, as none of us want to be misled by false promises, this is the subject that I personally feel very strongly about and I would like to defend my position. Yes, most breast cancers are in fact preventable. Further, women who are considered to be high risk with the BRCA gene can be the greatest beneficiaries of what I would call ‘preventive medicine’.

 

Most of us still consider cancer, or breast cancer in particular, as some mysterious and very complicated disease since there is no definitive cure for it. This is true but only to a point. The problem is the way we view this. If we focus only on the cure, the result seems distant and unattainable. For sure, once the body is riddled with cancer it is very difficult to treat and to cure. However cancer does not occur overnight, it is a process that takes many years to develop before it is even diagnosed. By the time breast cancer is detected, with mammography for example, usually it takes 8-9 years to get there. So, the question is if we’re in year 5 of tumor development and it cannot be seen by detectable methods we use today, does that mean that there is nothing there? Of course it’s there, we just can’t see it yet. It is growing and developing yet nothing is being done. This is why proactive prevention is the key.

 

I would go further and say that unless you have a predisposition to cancer you cannot get it. Simply speaking, once your immunity is compromised cancer can set in. On the other hand if the milieu (your body’s internal environment) is not conducive nothing will grow in it. Just like certain plants cannot grow in unfavorable soil and conditions, the same principle applies to our health and cancer tumors. For instance, if you’re not prone to getting headaches you are not going to get them. You can create an environment where you’re likely to start getting headaches, if you have food allergies, if you have trauma to your neck or head, if you have digestive issues, hormonal disturbances, hypertension, etc. However, if none of these conditions exist it is not likely that you’ll be suffering with debilitating headaches.

 

Even according to American Cancer Institute 1/3 of breast cancers can be preventable based on diet and life-style changes.  I’m convinced that we can do way better than that. If we follow a few more simple measures we can have 2/3 of all breast cancer never occur. Here are some simple yet proven methods women can use to drastically reduce their own risk of developing breast cancer. 

 

Appropriate changes in lifestyle, diet, nutrition along with treatment of hormonal and endocrine disorders, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, etc. – all of the above can forestall or even prevent the formation of tumors.

 

Where can we start? Let’s start by addressing well-known risk factors associated with breast cancer. I have written articles on these subjects and you can read them in more detail following the list below. Each subject title is linked to another article. See what resonates with you:

 

 

This is not a complete list, but in my opinion, these are the most common risk factors associated with breast cancer. To get started get together with a trusted health professional to assess properly your own risk factors.  Further, create a plan of action on what you’ll need to address first and execute proper follow up. This may require some time and effort on your part but once you have made a commitment to keep improving your health there is no going back. This is not only life changing but also life saving!

 

Breast cancer prevention does not get better by CHANCE and quick fixes, it gets better by CHANGE and lifestyle choices.

 

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Mammography is really the gold standard of breast screening according to the dominant opinion of medical experts. It is time to begin thinking beyond the closed box of mammography. Like other screening technologies, it has a specific set of disadvantages and advantages. Women should be encouraged to assess for themselves whether mammography is appropriate for them, rather than having it imposed upon them as a screening mechanism ‘in their best interest’. 

 

What is mammography? It is a form of screening that has been used since the 1970s in North American and most European countries. Essentially, the breasts are squished between two plates horizontally, as well as obliquely, in order to x-ray in each position. 

 

Given the prevalent use of mammography, it is important to understand the dangers that it presents. One danger is the actual compression and the potential injury that can cause; after all, this is about 70 pounds of weight pressing on your breast. And, of course, it may not be the most beneficial thing for you if in fact something is growing in your breast. Over the years, I have heard many, many women say, “I had trauma to my breast,” or “My breasts were blue for the next two weeks after the mammogram”. These complaints should not be ignored. 

 

Another danger is the substantial amount of radiation to which a woman is exposed during a mammogram. Even though the mammography industry suggests that the radiation is minimal––that it’s equivalent to an airplane trip––this is nonsense. With a chest x-ray, you’re looking at a level of 0.10 mSv of radiation exposure. With mammography, you’re looking at four times the radiation exposure! Radiation in a mammogram is actually concentrated over a smaller area compared to a chest x-ray and four images are taken for each breast. These four images are equal to one rad. (The Rad is a deprecated unit of absorbed radiation dose). Of course, annual screening over ten years will give us ten rads [of] radiation exposure for each breast; twenty rads in total!

 

Dr. Samuel Epstein, Professor Emeritus at University of Illinois, School Public Health in Chicago, a well-known researcher who has published widely on breast cancer prevention, has actually suggested that ten rads (of cumulative exposure) is equivalent to someone standing within a mile of the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. So to say that it has absolutely no effect is just wishful (and dangerous) thinking. I become very frustrated when I see studies claiming that only one in a million women will actually get breast cancer from radiation. See full article by Dr. Epstein called - Breast Cancer Unawareness Month: Rethinking Mammograms

 

Keep in mind that exposure to radiation is much more dangerous for younger women (those under 50 and especially under 40), as each rad increases the risk of breast cancer by 1%. So now we have a common occurrence where someone with fibrocystic breast and maybe a family history of breast cancer is encouraged to “be proactive”––meaning, to go every 6 months for a mammogram. Same woman is going to have 40 x-ray exams over the next 20 years. Practically, this means we have just escalated her risk by 40%, never mind the potential physical injury to the breast. Keep in mind too that about 2% of women actually have a particular gene (BRCA1, BRCA2, CHEK2, and ATM) that renders them four times more susceptible to radiation exposure. Women can be tested for this gene. It’s troubling that before sending women en masse for annual mammograms, health professionals are not even testing for this susceptibility. 

 

In 2006 a paper was published in the British Journal of Radiobiology entitled “Enhanced Biological Effectiveness of Low Energy X-rays and Implications for the UK Breast Training Program that provided solid evidence about the damage done by mammograms.  The authors argued that recent radiological studies have proved compellingly that the low energy x-rays used in mammography are approximately four times––but possibly as much as six times––more effective in causing mutational damage than high energy x-rays. In other words, since radiation estimates are based on the effect of high energy gamma radiation, this implies that the risks of radiation-induced breast cancer for mammography are underestimated by the same factor. However, this is not something that the mammography and cancer lobby wants you to know. This is something that they’re concealing from you.  This is important information and you have the right to know.

 

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Common Viruses and Breast Cancer

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I am surprised that viruses are still dismissed as a cause of breast cancer!

There are a number of common viruses that, despite having a connection to breast cancer, are dismissed as causes of the disease. Infectious organisms can cause chronic disease and this creates, if nothing else, a predisposition to cancer. Not too many people are going to argue with this hypothesis. But let be more specific and point out that viruses have multiple consequences. For example, the HIV virus that causes AIDS can also cause Kaposi’s Sarcoma and central nervous system lymphoma. The HPV, human papilloma virus, can also cause cervical, penile, anal cancers. Hepatitis B and C can cause liver cancer. Helicobacter Pylori causes ulcers but also stomach cancers and Epstein-Barr (causing mononucleosis) can cause Burkitt’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. 

Some studies suggest that a virus similar to the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) is associated with breast cancer in humans. In North America, Europe and Australia, where the species is common, incidentally where we also have the highest incidence of breast cancer, this virus was detected in 30 - 40% of breast cancer tissue samples. Interestingly, in Asia where the incidence of breast cancer is much lower than in North America, infected samples were many times lower too. Remember, that the development of cancer is a multi-step process with several contributing factors, infections by herpesvirus, polyomavirus, papillomavirus and retrovirus families definitely associate with breast cancer. 

In my own experience, I’ve found that people who have had mononucleosis (caused by Epstein Barr Virus) have a much higher incidence of all cancers, including breast cancer. So whenever I see Epstein Barr or mononucleosis in patient’s medical history, I immediately start thinking about immune support to prevent cancer. The role of viruses in most common cancers is certainly important, and in my opinion, highly underestimated. Viruses can directly act as catalysts of disease and of course also as triggering co-factors. 

I believe that approximately 30% of cancer has a viral aetiology––in other words, the origin is viral or bacterial. Already, we know that between 15% and 20% of known viruses and bacteria’s cause cancer. This likely explains the random and so-called rampant cases of cancers that don’t seem to have any other obvious causes. 

I propose that by preventing and treating infections properly we may possibly stop or even eliminate many breast cancers.

 

 

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You might be surprised to know that 50% of women, or as high as 60% of women, of menstruating age will have to deal with fibrocystic breast condition at some point. As the term suggests, the emphasis here is on a condition involving fibrous and cystic breasts. Fibro-adenoma is a very firm, rubbery substance, while cysts are fluid-filled sacs. Both react to hormonal changes, thus effective treatment of fibrocystic condition should involve attending to and balancing hormones. 

The symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition may include: swelling, tingling, thickening, lumps, pain (including a sharp pain or “burning sensation”), tenderness and itching. If you suspect that you have this condition, I highly recommend that you begin taking yearly thermography images and follow up with an ultrasound. Mammography is not an appropriate screening test for those of you with dense breasts; as it is not effective at detecting tumors in high density breast tissue.

Ultrasound testing is the most appropriate for diagnosis of fibrocystic condition while it can differentiate between fluid-filled cysts and dense mass. It can also pick up lesions that are not palpable. Ultrasound is safe for pregnant women, as well as those with breast implants. The disadvantage of ultrasound test, is that it doesn’t image deep inside the tissue, it may not distinguish between surrounding normal and abnormal tissue, it will not pick up micro-calcifications (only a mammogram will do that) and it is operator dependent, meaning that mistakes can be made with poorly trained technicians. 

I highly recommend using thermography for risk assessment, but also as a treatment monitoring of fibrocystic breasts.  In many cases simply using Indole-3-Carbinol, a supplement made from cruciferous vegetables that you can buy over-the-counter can lead to excellent results. With thermography, we are able to identify the problem and then assess the effectiveness of treatment within a few months. 

As some of you may already have had the painful experience of learning, fibrocystic breasts are typically treated by clinical needle aspiration. This may alleviate some of the immediate discomfort, but the technique is quite invasive and, most importantly, the milieu in which fibrocystic breasts thrived remains the same. That is, the underlying cause of cysts and nodules in that breast has not been addressed. Very often, fluid will come back and usually even more cysts will emerge after draining the original ones. You have removed the symptom by draining it but did not remove the cause, thus the body always trying to keep equilibrium of various states will continue to create more cysts and fill them with fluid.

Of course, a long-term solution to this would have to address the cause of this imbalance such as: estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency, elevated prolactin levels, insulin resistance, thyroid dysfunction, iodine deficiency and environmental, dietary and metabolic toxins. Taken together, these variables––and the relations between them––give us a set of causes that are certainly not going to be treated by draining one or two cysts. 

A long-term solution to fibrocystic condition has to start with avoidance of coffee, tea, all caffeinated drinks, chocolate and soft drinks. Anything that contains caffeine will exacerbate fibrocystic breast. I’ve treated many women with fibrocystic breast and I have to say that if you just give up on caffeine alone, 50% of your symptoms will disappear over a period of time. Correct hormone imbalance by taking the measures I suggest in a more detailed article on Fibrocystic Breast Condition, especially making sure that an Anti-Estrogenic Diet becomes part of your everyday life. I also suggest that women supplement with iodine, vitamin A, Vitamin B6, C, E and D if they have fibrocystic issues. If you are taking supplements, a word of advice, you want to make sure you are taking quality vitamins from natural, rather than synthetic sources. 

I also want to single out Magnesium as a hugely underrated mineral, and you should be taking this if you have fibrocystic breast.  Almost anyone can use a little bit of magnesium because most of us don’t have enough. Supplement with Zinc, which is a prerequisite for proper thyroid function. Agnus-Castus (the common name is Vitex) is also a great botanical that helps your own system regulate your estrogen and helps with production of your own progesterone. Primrose-Oil and Castor Oil packs I suggest in cases where breasts become very painful. 

Finally, from a holistic perspective dealing with fibrocystic breasts should also include; balancing hormones, keeping one’s immune system in top form, sleeping well, managing stress, getting exercise and maintaining a positive frame of mind. 

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It is a well-known fact that certain type of estrogen (Estradiol) makes most breast cancers grow. The levels of estrogen have been found to be higher in many studies in women with breast cancer vs. women that do not have breast cancer.  Naturally it would stand to reason that if we can manage to reduce the levels of estrogen (estradiol) in women we can also reduce the risk of breast cancer significantly. 

 

So, how do we reduce the levels of estrogen?  It is not so easy since we are inundated with estrogen promoting commercial products, industrial pollutants, Xeno-Estrogents, along with processed foods loaded with estrogen mimicking chemicals.  Many women successfully use products like I3C, DIM, Calcium-D-Glucorate, etc., to help reduce their levels of estrogen, yet nothing can be as effective as the dietary measures that you practice. 

 

In my own clinical practice I’ve come across many women that have been appropriately prescribed bio-identical progesterone or testosterone yet they consume coffee and alcohol, which aromatizes (converts) these hormones to estradiol. For instance, just 2 cups of coffee per day will rob you of 60% of your testosterone and convert it to estradiol. In addition, coffee will promote dehydration, loss of calcium and raise the level of acidity. The same goes for wine consumption: it also converts testosterone to estradiol, which is a cancer promoting estrogen. 

 

A note of caution to women using bio-identical hormone therapy – if you’re consuming caffeine or alcohol, even in small amounts, you may not be getting the benefits of your bio-identical hormone therapy and, worse, you may be creating a big problem for yourself in the future and increasing your risk of breast cancer.

 

Now, how does one reduce estradiol in your body naturally? The most simple and effective way is through your diet.  Women that consume more animal based foods have higher levels of estradiol compared to the vegetarian population. 

 

There are several reasons for this: First, animal foods for the most part contain fat that retains toxic elements along with estrogenic hormones fed to animals. Same hormones are then transferred to humans via food consumption. Second, vegetarians consume way more fiber that prevents reabsorption of estrogen through the intestinal tract. Fiber binds to estrogen in the intestinal tract and helps with elimination, whereas low fiber diets cannot accomplish that.

 

This explains why there is lower incidence of breast cancer among vegetarians.  Plant based foods along with non-processed grains contain higher fiber content compared to animal based foods that are extremely low in fiber. In short, the more fiber you have in your diet, the lower your levels of estradiol, and the lower your risk of breast cancer. 

 

Next time you are making a choice of what ends up on your dinner plate, please keep in mind that there are many delicious foods that will support reducing estradiol and protect you from breast cancer.

 

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The Secret of Asian Women

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It is a well-known fact that Asian women have a much lower incidence of breast cancer compared to women in North America and Western Europe. Women in Japan for instance have one seventh of breast cancer rates compared to women in US and Canada.  To illustrate the point, there was a study conducted measuring breast cancer incidence in Asian women in both San Francisco and Shanghai showing that women in San Francisco have a much higher rates of breast cancer. (So much for the gene theory as a significant indicator of breast cancer incidence). It has been shown in many studies that Asian women’s estrogen levels are 40% lower compared to their sisters living in North America. Also, interesting to note that as Asian women migrate to North America within one or two generations their breast cancer rates are the same as everyone else’s living in North America. Unfortunately as their traditional diets are changing their breast cancer rates are going up. So what is it that is happening in Asia that protects women from breast cancer?

 

One significant factor is: their diet.  First, their animal product consumption is much lower, including meat and dairy products. They do, however, eat more soy and mushrooms, and drink more green tea. Most significant is one additional food they eat that stands out prominently and that is - SEAWEED. Studies have shown that seaweed is effective at killing cancer cells in Perti dish experiments. Compared to a widely used chemotherapy drug, seaweed worked better and without harming normal cells. In human population trials it has been shown to cut the incidence of breast cancer in half by consuming a single sheet of Nori. (Same nori commonly used as a wrap for sushi).

 

The more seaweed you eat the less estrogen you have in your body, this in turn lowers your risk for breast cancer. The connection between estrogen and breast cancer risk has been well established. Seaweed and many sea vegetables also contain special fibers that help your body to flush excess hormones. In addition, seaweed contains iodine and breast tissue is a sponge for iodine. Many women (and men) are iodine deficient, especially those living in the Great Lakes Region, Northwestern US and most of Canada. Iodine is an essential trace element and iodine deficiency gives rise to goiter and low-functioning thyroid, fibrocystic breast, weight gain, depression, fatigue and low basal body temperature. For centuries, iodine also has been used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent thus treating and preventing many infections.

 

There are many delicious seaweed products and snacks other than the above-mentioned Nori, and fortunately they are becoming more available. Kombu is a large type of seaweed that is often used as a soup stock. Wakame has been shown to lower blood pressure and help with weight loss, also used in soups (miso soup) and Sunomono salads. Arame with a mild semi-sweet flavor is used in appetizers, casseroles and soups. Sea vegetables have phytonutrients found nowhere else; they contain special fibers, carotenoids, polysaccharides and polyphenol compounds that have anti-cancer properties. 

 

It is important to note that seaweed just like any other food product must be of the best quality and organic.  My preference would be to use traditional Japanese products vs. lower priced Chinese products that may contain other additives and in some cases even heavy metals. Try experimenting with these delicious and nutrient vital foods and incorporate them into your regular diet.  Want to significantly lower your risk of breast cancer? – Try seaweed! 

 

Just one or two sheets of Nori per day may keep breast cancer away.

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Prevention Is Better Than Cure

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I’m going to start with a bold statement: Breast cancer can be prevented! 

The American Institute for Cancer Research has stated that a third of most common cancers can be prevented. According to their research, 38% of breast cancers per year are preventable. In other words, 88,000 women do not have to get breast cancer. Based on my experience, this number is still very conservative and the real number of preventable breast cancer cases is likely much closer to two-thirds of all breast cancer cases per year. This means that in the US and Canada close to 200,000 women a year can be spared from getting breast cancer. Further, when it comes to colorectal cancer, the official estimate is 50%. It is also estimated that in cases of mouth and laryngeal cancers that 63% of them are preventable. The list of preventable cancers does not end there and clearly shows that most cancers are preventable!

Unfortunately when it comes to cancer prevention, healthcare, and the way it is practiced today, is not effective. The problem is that the current approach concentrates on breast cancer detection rather than breast cancer prevention. Let me explain…

Of course detection is important, however it takes anywhere between eight to nine years and sometimes even longer to detect breast cancer. Therefore what is often talked about, as early detection is not actually early detection. It is actually quite late detection. Further, the media with the help of the medical establishment equate detection with prevention. Women are encouraged to undergo questionable and non-effective screenings with annual mammography, yet as far as prevention goes there is very little that women are offered. Worse, the information on prevention sometimes could be very confusing and even contradictory and thus many women understandably give up on the idea of prevention out of frustration.

With the incidence of breast cancer on the rise women are beginning to consider including breast thermography to their annual breast check-up. Breast thermography is the only breast test that evaluates physiology, i.e. how the breast functions as opposed to all other valuable tests, which only measure the anatomy. It is well documented in medicine that changes in physiology can occur 8 to 10 years before anatomic changes. Breast thermography identifies that physiological change right from the onset. This means that women have the opportunity to initiate a proactive plan leading to breast cancer prevention. 

Appropriate changes in lifestyle, diet, nutrition along with treatment of hormonal and endocrine disorders, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, etc. – all of the above can forestall or even prevent the formation of tumours.

In addition, breast thermography is a perfect tool to be used for risk assessment and can be very useful in monitoring the effectiveness of treatments and their effects on breast tissue. 

My proposal is that we change our focus from breast cancer awareness, which is really mostly fear driven, to breast cancer prevention, which is about empowering women with relevant information that enables them to proactively reduce their risk and incidence of breast cancer. 

Prevention is better than cure

If you follow our Ten Ways to Help Prevent Breast Cancer, you can drastically reduce your chances of dealing with this disease.

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