These days, we know genetic mutations affect your likelihood of developing breast cancer, especially if you have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
But like so many other cancers, diet and lifestyle also play a significant role in whether you’ll develop breast cancer. In fact, diet and lifestyle appear to be the biggest factors overall. Researchers now estimate as much as 73 percent of breast cancer is caused by diet and lifestyle choices, as opposed to genetics. That bottle of cola and that dish of ice cream had better be really good because you may end up paying a terrible price.
But lifestyle means far more than our food and exercise habits. It also includes toxins we’re exposed to, including some prescription drugs we take because doctors tell us they’re “harmless.” Right now I’m thinking of the types of hormones you might be putting in your body that could elevate your risk. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, let’s take a look at some things you can do…
Is Cancer a Result of Eating Too Few Apricots?
When it comes to cancer prevention you’d be mad to surrender your health to conventional care. Some so-called experts would have you believe that cancer is caused by an apricot or laetrile (a naturally accruing substance found in the kernels of apricots) deficiency… and that you should eat apricot pits to correct the problem.
Remember, cancer is self-inflicted damage. It comes as a result of our unhealthy lifestyle.
Cancer is not a result of eating too few apricots. 99.9% of native peoples, who are cancer free, do NOT eat apricot kernels. Cancer is not a laetrile deficiency, whatever you may have read about this “cure”.
But it is arguably an oxygen deficiency, an anti-oxidant deficiency, electron deficiency, enzyme deficiency, love deficiency and vitamin C and D deficiency. Even, our standard Western diet contributes to cancer.
You can find out the REAL cancer secrets from the collected writings of an experienced holistic physician, with over 30 years experience.
Click here to discover scientifically-proven cancer therapies and get wise about cancer before it strikes.
5 “little” lifestyle tips that can help you
Avoid breast cancer
Lifestyle choices can have a profound affect on your health, and on how your body performs at all levels. Doctors rarely spend the time necessary to talk about these things. Be smart today, and implement this “top 5” list.
- Smoking and Alcohol. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Studies show that women who smoked for 35 years had a 60% greater risk of serious breast health problems. And women who smoked 15 years were 34% more likely to develop abnormal breast cells.
As for alcohol, drinking the stuff on a regular basis may fuel estrogen imbalances and abnormal breast cell changes. As the rest of this article will show, high estrogen levels are a major cause of breast cancer and other cancers.
- Exercise. Even mild or moderate exercise (i.e., 30 minutes of walking) can help move immune cells around your body, support a healthy estrogen balance, and help keep abnormal breast cells from taking root. It also promotes insulin sensitivity and a healthy weight. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Walk a little bit — ten minutes, 15 minutes. DO SOMETHING.
- Your Weight. Fat cells produce more estrogen. A healthy weight also benefits your cardiovascular, metabolic, and overall health. Yes, I know everyone’s tired of being nagged, but the years this can add to your life are worth all the trouble of tackling this problem.
- Vegetables. Eat a diet high in organic veggies, especially cruciferous and dark leafy greens. They’re chock full of crucial vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals you’ve probably never heard of. Raw is better than cooked.
- Thermography and breast exams. Do monthly self-breast exams and an annual thermogram. A thermogram doesn’t directly diagnose cancer, but it can warn you of inflammatory hot spots that can spell trouble, up to ten years in advance of actually having cancer that can be detected. This gives you tons of time to take action.
Meanwhile, beware of this mainstream medical therapy
It’s widely documented that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer. Not so many years ago, doctors promoted this therapy like crazy. Nearly half of all post-menopausal women at least gave it a try — that’s a staggering number of people.
Then a big study revealed that hormone replacement therapy was clearly linked to breast cancer. It turned out it was a really bad idea to blindly trust your doctor — you know, that guy or gal who has all that schooling and knows everything.
Thousands of women promptly quit hormone replacement therapy, and within a few years the breast cancer rate plunged.
It was probably the most dramatic proof ever seen that a lifestyle choice can give you cancer. In this case the choice was a prescription drug that is not essential.
In spite of the warnings, it seems quite a few women still take hormone replacement therapy. If that describes you, take heed — you’re putting your life in danger. And that may be true even if you’re a loyal natural health fan and take “bio-identical” hormone therapy, as I’ll explain in a minute.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause is a lifestyle choice and it’s something women have been choosing for decades, although far fewer women choose it now. It’s also known as menopausal hormone therapy (HT or MHT), postmenopausal hormones (PMH), or postmenopausal hormone therapy (PHT). Treatments are generally administered through a pill, topical cream, or patch.
Most conventional hormone replacement therapy is made up of progesterone or progestins (synthetic hormones that act like progesterone). In rare cases, androgens (testosterone-like male hormones) are used, along with something called Tibolone, a synthetic hormone drug that acts like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, depending on which tissue of the body it gets put into to.
Women choose HRT to replace the female hormones in their bodies that are no longer made after menopause (in general, that’s when women have lower estrogen levels). But it’s a choice that can dramatically increase your breast cancer risk as well as your risk of other cancers, even if you use it for as little as two years.
Before the big study linking it to cancer, HRT used to be a standard treatment for any woman who experienced hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms, and was believed to have long-term benefits that protected against illness like heart disease and dementia. Now we know the treatment did more harm than good, especially for older post-menopausal women.
In spite of this finding, HRT is still considered a helpful treatment for certain groups of women, such as those at high risk of heart disease (this is because some studies show estrogen may decrease heart disease risk). But it’s not clear whether the benefits outweigh the risks even for these special groups.
Why the HRT cancer risk is real
As more research on HRT surfaces, more risks are coming to light. For example, women who take estrogen supplements without the right balance of progesterone risk uterine cancer. Breast cancer risk also rises, in part because HRT can cause a breast to look denser on a mammogram, making cancer all but impossible to detect.
Worse still, not only does hormone replacement therapy elevate your risk of breast cancer, but once developed, the cancer might be more aggressive. Meaning the cancer might be more advanced once discovered, thus increasing your risk of dying from the disease.
Doctors caution that if you have a current or past history of breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer, you should steer clear of HRT—a fact that underscores how much hormone replacement therapy supports the growth of cancer.
Here’s a sampling of some recent negative results from HRT supplementation:
- One study of women taking estrogen-only therapy showed that one in nine women who took the therapy for three years developed a pre-cancerous change in the lining of the uterus.
- In a Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI), those who took estrogen-progestin therapy had a higher risk of breast cancer. And the longer the hormones were used, the higher the risk. In this study, it took three years of halting hormone therapy for risk levels to return to normal.
- In the same WHI study, it was found that women on estrogen-progestin therapy actually had a lower risk of colorectal cancer, but the cancers they did get were more likely to spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
- Observational studies suggest that estrogen-progestin therapy slightly increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
In general, your risk returns to normal within five years of stopping hormone replacement therapy.
What about natural alternatives to drug-company
hormone replacement therapy?
The first step to getting off hormone replacement therapy is to gradually minimize the amount you take. Use the lowest dose possible to treat your symptoms, and focus on improving other aspects of your health—by following the five tips at the beginning of this article.
Limiting stress is also an effective way to help curb menopausal symptoms. Take up yoga or practice relaxed, deep breathing or meditation. Tai chi and acupuncture may also help.
An alternative is to take bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, which appears to have a higher satisfaction rate. For example, those patients who take bio-identical hormone replacement therapy with progesterone report higher satisfaction than those who take a synthetic progestin. Same case for those taking Estriol, a bio-identical form of estrogen, which reacts within the body differently than estrogens found in conventional hormone replacement therapy. The latter are not exactly the same as the natural hormones your own body manufactures.
It makes sense to me that bio-identical hormones would be safer, but even so this type of therapy remains controversial. Having spent years recommending the man-made hormones, mainstream medicine has now done a complete about face and says ANY estrogen supplement — man-made or bio-identical — may increase cancer risk.
I am anything but an expert, but I do know that exposure to estrogen does raise cancer risk. For this reason, the more pregnancies a woman has, the lower her breast cancer risk, because estrogen levels drop during pregnancy. Breast cancer risk is directly related to the number of monthly cycles a woman has during her lifetime, since estrogen levels peak during a certain part of the cycle. Pregnancy arrests this process and leads to lower cumulative lifetime exposure to estrogen.
I’ve also read (and, again, I’m not an expert) that the symptoms of menopause can be managed by diet and proper food supplements. Doctors who advocate this approach say that the annoying symptoms of modern menopause are largely a product of our bad dietary habits. Like other symptoms of aging including diabetes and heart disease, we’re inflicting this problem on ourselves.
In the end … avoid the risk
Controlled trials are needed before we have more conclusive results about the risks of hormone replacement therapy, but for now, it appears much safer to go with what’s natural. Especially since every time researchers learn more about hormone therapy, the message seems to be that it’s not that great after all.
So as long as there are alternatives, your best bet is to try them first.
Lee Euler, Publisher