* Breast cancer is a tumor or lump consisting of breast cells that have ‘mistakes’ in their DNA or genetic code and reproduce at an abnormal rate. If left to progress, the cells in the tumor may spread to other tissue in the body where they will continue to multiply. The cancer cells may develop their own system of blood vessels, taking nutrients away from other areas of the body. If left unchecked, the cancer will eventually lead to illness and death.
* Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women in America between the age of 35 and 54. Information from the American Cancer Society says that one in nine women will get breast cancer before she is eighty-five. Men are less likely to suffer breast cancer; however, it is worth noting that because of this, breast cancer is often detected much later in its progression in men than in women.
* Causes or risk factors increasing the likelihood of breast cancer include increased or prolonged exposure to estrogen (estrogen encourages cell growth in the breasts), such as early onset of menstruation, menopause after the age of fifty-five, having no children or having the first child after the age of forty, oral contraceptives, diet and obesity. Exposure to radiation and pesticides, a depressed immune system, prolonged or continual emotional or mental stress, smoking, heredity and breast implants have also been linked with cancer.
* Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump that is generally quite hard and does not go away — unlike fybrocystic lumps, which may occur and disappear throughout the menstrual cycle. There is most often no pain associated with the lump and it does not move as it is may be attached to the skin or to underlying muscle. Breast cancer may also cause clear, yellow or bloody discharge from the nipple, or cause a change in the shape of the breast or nipple.
* Address Obesity Problems – obesity causes the body to have increased estrogen levels, thus increasing the risk of breast cancer.
* Quit Smoking – smoking and passive smoking increases the risk of some cancers and puts unnecessary strain on a body trying to survive cancer. See smoking for information on how to quit.
* Avoid Chemicals – many chemicals are carcinogenic and some may have an unknown long term effect. It is safer to avoid exposure to chemicals as much as possible.
* Stress Management – the mind has a powerful influence upon one’s health, and techniques such as meditation, yoga or breathing exercises should be a part of your daily stress management program to reduce the risk of cancer, or to help the body to cope with cancer treatment.
* Have Regular Checkups – self examination and professional check ups should be a part of your anti cancer routine. If you do not feel confident in performing self examination, please seek help from your physician. After the age of forty women should have their breasts examined by their physician annually, a mammogram (breast x-ray) every two years, as well as monthly self examination. After fifty, women should have a mammogram annually. It is recommended that all women perform self examination every month, at the same time in the menstrual cycle, but not whilst menstruating. If you find any changes, please seek medical advice. The following is a guide to self examination:
– Raise your hands over your head and press the palms together. Take notice of the shape of the breasts. Press your hands onto your hips and see if the breast skin dimples, if the nipples are out of position or if the breasts look different to each other. Seek medical advice if there are any irregularities.
– Lie on your back, place a pillow under the right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. Using the fingers of the left hand move in a circular motion from the outer breast in toward the nipple. Work your way around the entire breast looking for hard lumps that do not move. Repeat on the left breast. This method may also be done while standing for extra precaution. Seek medical advice if you find any suspicious lumps.
* Dietary Changes – diet may be one of the best preventative measures you can take against breast cancer.
– Reduce fat intake – high fat, especially animal fat, diets have been linked with breast cancer as they increase the estrogen produced by the body.
– Take in a high fiber diet, at least 35 gms daily. Fiber is known to reduce the risk of cancer and some fibers such as wheat bran are known to reduce estrogen levels.
– Adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. Animals are often treated with hormones and consume foods contaminated with pesticides; these chemicals are taken into your body when you eat meat and other animal products. Many studies have found a direct correlation between high intake of animal protein and breast, colon, prostate and endometrial cancer.
– Avoid alcohol, caffeine products, processed foods or foods with additives, salt, sugar and white flour.
– If possible, eat organically grown food, as pesticides have been linked to breast cancer.
– Eat a whole-foods vegetarian diet including whole grains, legumes, oats, onions, berries, garlic, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, brussel sprouts, nuts, seeds, yams, pumpkin and leafy green vegetables.
Breast Cancer Treatment
* There are some therapies available to treat breast cancer. Conventional therapies include surgery – removal of the tumor; radiation – radiation of the tumor; and chemotherapy – drug therapy. The treatment used will depend upon how advanced the cancer is and it will have many side effects. It is necessary to include other therapies such as diet, vitamin, mineral and herbal therapies into your regimen to improve the chances of successful recovery. Please consult your nutrition oriented physician for further information. If breast cancer is diagnosed and treated early in its progression, it is quite possible to go on and lead a normal and healthy life after treatment. It is worth noting that the healthier a body is before, during and after treatment, the better the chances are of avoiding or overcoming breast cancer.
* Consider seeing a Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner.
Natural Treatments for Breast Cancer
VITAMIN A – Contains anticarcinogenic phytochemicals shown to reduce the risk of breast and other cancers. Vitamin A helps stimulate the immune system and is used in tissue repair. Natural sources of vitamin A include yellow fruits and vegetables, rose hip, sage, spinach, spirulina, alfalfa, asparagus, dandelion greens, red peppers, apricots and peaches. 50,000 iu daily in divided doses of emulsion form, may help if you have breast cancer otherwise take according to label instructions. Doses over 10,000 iu per day may cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Women of childbearing age are advised not to become pregnant during such a course or within one month after ceasing a course.
* Vitamin B Complex – is used to build red blood cells, helps to regulate hormone production, helps the liver to detoxify the blood, used for healthy cell function and reproduction and improves circulation. 300 mg daily in divided doses may help.
VITAMIN C – With bioflavonoids. Vitamin C is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and to lower death rates of cancer sufferers due to its antioxidant properties, which protect tissue from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C may also be used to prevent damaging side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, alfalfa, fenugreek, parsley, peppermint, tomatoes, pineapple, papayas, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, onions, mangos, peas, persimmons and kelp. 5,000 – 20,000 daily in divided doses may help if you have colon cancer otherwise take according to label instructions. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and may affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.
VITAMIN E – Helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer as the antioxidant properties protect cell membranes from attack from free radicals and is used in cell repair – important if you are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Natural sources of vitamin E include dark green leafy vegetables, cornmeal, milk, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, dandelion, soybeans, legumes, cold pressed vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains and seeds. 400 – 1,000 iu daily of emulsion form, may help if you have breast cancer otherwise take according to label instructions.
BETA CAROTENE – Protects against cancer by scavenging free radicals. 10,000 iu daily may help if you have breast cancer otherwise take according to label instructions.
SELENIUM – Some studies have shown that people who have a diet low in selenium have increased risk of developing cancer. Selenium works synergistically with vitamin C and A and has a powerful antioxidant effect. Natural sources of selenium include dairy products, garlic, molasses, kelp, nettle, ginseng, fenugreek, fennel seed, chamomile, wheat germ, brown rice, alfalfa, whole grains and sarsaparilla. 200 – 400 mcg daily in divided doses may help if you have breast cancer otherwise take according to label instructions.
CHOLINE – Helps to regulate hormone production. Natural sources of choline include milk, soybeans, legumes and whole grains. 300 mg daily in divided doses may help if you have breast cancer otherwise take according to label instructions. Do not take if you suffer bipolar depression.
ASTRAGALUS, HUANG QI – Stimulates the immune system, assists in healing, improves fatigue and is used for cancer and after chemotherapy. Take according to label instructions. Works well if used alternately with echinacea. Do not take if a fever is present. Do not use for more than ten consecutive days.
BURDOCK – Helps to detoxify the blood and liver. Take according to label instructions. Burdock root should be used with caution during pregnancy and may reduce iron absorption.
CHAPARRAL – A free radical scavenger, helps during radiation and reduces the risks of cancer. Take according to label instructions. Chaparral in large or prolonged doses may damage the liver.
DANDELION – It is thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Take according to label instructions. Avoid dandelion if you have ulcers or gall stones.
ECHINACEA, PURPLE CONEFLOWER – Stimulates the immune system. Works well if used alternately with astragalus. Do not take if you are allergic to plants in the sunflower family. Do not use if you have an autoimmune disease or have a progressive disease such as multiple sclerosis or tuberculosis
GARLIC – Stimulates the immune system, detoxifies the body, improves circulation and is used for cancer. Take 2 – 3 capsules daily in divided doses. Seek medical advice before taking garlic if you are taking anticoagulant medication.
GINGER – Helps to alleviate nausea and vomiting which is experienced with chemotherapy and radiation, improves circulation, and is an antioxidant. 1 gm daily in divided doses may help. Do not use for a prolonged period during pregnancy or if you have gallstones.
GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE – Improves circulation and oxygenates body tissue. Take according to label instructions. Take for at least two weeks for maximum benefit.
GREEN TEA – Is thought to reduce the risk of cancer. Drink liberally.
MILK THISTLE – An antioxidant and improves the immune system. Take according to label instructions.