Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer
As a breast cancer survivor, I soon found it critical to inform women of how they could prevent breast cancer with new diagnostic testing and lifestyle changes that were not available to us decades ago... when our cancer was developing. Women are misinformed in believing that mammograms and thermography are preventative when they are actually used for early detection. Equally, they believe that genetics or family history is their destiny.
32% of all female cancers are breast cancer. 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. 90% of women who develop breast cancer are the first in their family to ever get the disease--that was my scenario. Age and ethnicity are also connected to your risk. Ultrasounds, MRI's, and thermography are useful to detect early cancer. However, the AMAs Cancer Test (Oncolab) is a test that is based on levels of specific antibodies, shown to be elevated in a wide range of cancers. Oncoblot is another blood test to assess very early development of 27 cancers with 99% reliability, making these tests useful for monitoring. However, even with all of this detection, we are clearly losing the war on breast cancer. The 5 year mortality rate for breast cancer survivors has declined, but occurrence rates have gone up 270% since 1970. So addressing RISK REDUCTION involves identifying functional weaknesses and making changes that will affect your odds of ever developing breast cancer.
We must ask... How do you assess your risk and what can you do to lower your risk?
Some factors to be evaluated are genetics, environmental exposure, detoxification capacity, medications, exercise, insulin/glucose control, age of menarchy, and dietary factors. Some factors we cannot control, many more we can greatly influence. Genetic testing beyond BRCA1 and BRCA2, to include RAD51, HGMA proteins, and micro RNA should also be considered.
Knowing that you may have genetic markers are guidelines for you to take extra precautions to avoid damaging the genes through ionizing radiation, inadequate antioxidant consumption, xenobiotic exposure (fragrances, plastics, pesticides, etc.). Other factors include estrogen metabolism and excretion, estrogen load, nutritional status, methylation and cellular repair, childbirth, and age of menarche. In other words, the expression of our genes is influenced by these factors.
There are also nutrients that are critical and have been found to be deficient in women who develop breast cancer, Vitamin D to name just one. Levels of these vitamins and minerals should be assessed.
Regardless of whether we make estrogen or take estrogen, the body must get rid of it. This is largely a function of the liver and how our diet and lifestyles impact our genetics. Most often, a basic hormone panel is run in the form of a dried urine test. This will tell us our estrogenic load and if our liver is metabolizing it effectively. We are looking at 2 methoxyestrone, 4 methoxyestrone, and 16 methoxyestrone. The 2:16 estrogen ratio is critical in assessing your risk. If your ratio of 2/16 is <1.38, your risk increases threefold. Consumption of foods containing isothiocyanates, such as broccoli, are anticarcinogenic and anticancerous. Cruciferous vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, contain indole-3-carbinol to assist the liver in removing the estrogens by way of enhancing detoxification enzymes. Their effect is greatly reduced by the use of medications such as prilosec and nexium because the medication causes less than optimal breakdown of the phytochemical compounds. Antifungals and calcium channel blockers will also reduce the phytochemical benefits of otherwise healthy foods.
Liver function is a reflection of COMT and glutathione levels. Improper functioning and decreased levels have been shown to increase breast cancer risk in Caucasian women by 300-400%. There are food such as curcuminoids and catechins which can potentiate the COMT enzyme pathway.
Betaglucoronidase is a naturally occurring enzyme in the GI tract. It can hook the unconjugated estrogens, releasing them back into circulation, and move them out into the stool before they can cause harm. This can be downregulated by diet as well by consuming oranges, apples, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. This is measured by way of a stool sample and elevated levels have been linked to colon and breast cancer. All of these foods can be taken regularly by way of whole food supplements.
Hypothyroidism has been shown to also negatively affect the metabolism of estrogen. Exercise plays a large role. Women who exercised during adolescence and adulthood experienced the most significant reduction in breast cancer risk, a 30% reduction. Breast cancer risk has also been shown to decrease by 40% in women who exercised 3 times weekly from their teens to adulthood.
Body composition, in particular high abdominal fat, has also been linked to high rates of breast cancer. Smoking will increase your risk and the development will usually occur earlier. Alcohol consumption, 2 glasses or more per day, will increase your risk by 32%. Milk consumption due to bovine hormonal influences will increase your risk. Countries that consume high quantities of milk also have the highest rates of breast cancer.
Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors and they are all around us. They are in most sunscreens, which we slather ourselves in from an early age, soaps, birth control pills, cosmetics, saran wrap, styrofoam coffee cups, progesterone creams, plastic water bottles, and pesticides like "round up". Beauty comes at a very high price for sure!
Utilizing tests such as the DUTCH Test, a genetic test (23&ME), and nutritional evaluation are very basic to determine your risk and make you much healthier overall. Please call my office at (302) 994-1010, scroll down to send us an email, or call (other office number) to see where you stand.
Talk to the younger women in your life before they become part of the breast cancer world!