Breast Cancer: Prevent It Naturally
Understanding Breast Cancer
We are living in the most technologically advanced time in human history. Many of the things we take for granted today (such as mobile phones and computers) were a figment of our imaginations 30 years ago. Thanks to the advances in modern medicine, the average lifespan in most developed countries has risen to an all-time high.
We have enjoyed the perks of living in such an advanced age, but there is one area where few gains have been made, and that’s when attempting to find a cure for many diseases such as breast cancer.
This content is intended to be educational; it should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern you should consult an appropriately licensed physician or health care worker.
When did it all start?
Breast cancer was first diagnosed 3500 years ago in ancient Egypt. It was described on papyri as bulging tumors of the breast that has no cure.1 In 460 B.C., Hippocrates suggested that cancer was caused by the excess of black bile.1
In the 17th and 18th centuries, various theories as to the cause of breast cancer continued:
- In 1713 Bernardino Ramazzini’s developed a hypothesis that the high frequency of breast cancer in nuns was due to lack of sex.
- Giovanni Morgagni blamed curdled milk.
- Johanes de Gorter claimed pus-filled inflammations in the breast was to blame.
- Claude-Nicolas Le Cat from Rouen believed it was due to depressive mental disorders.
- Lorenz Heister reasoned breast cancer was caused by childlessness.
The First Mastectomy
A change in thinking occurred In 1757 when Henri Le Dran, a leading French physician suggested that surgical removal of the tumor could help treat breast cancer, as long as infected lymph nodes of the armpits were removed. This new method of treatment was expanded in the early 20th century by William Halstead. Halstead developed the radical mastectomy procedure that removed the breast, auxillary nodes, and both chest muscles.1
By 1995, less than 10 percent of women with breast cancer had a mastectomy.2 Other forms of treatment included surgery, biological therapies, and hormone treatments. Mammograms were used for early detections around this time, and in 2010, 16 million mammograms were either ordered or provided by physicians.3
Breast Cancer: The Facts
Breast cancer is far too common and cannot be taken lightly:
It is estimated that one in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and will be the cause of death for approximately 40,000 women annually.4
Not including skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in women, and the most common cause of death for Hispanic women.5
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. According to the CDC, one or two women out of 100 will get breast cancer between the ages of 30 and 40. The number increases to three out of four women for every 100 between the ages 60 and 706
Breast cancer affects men too: according to the American Cancer Society, about .22% of men’s cancer deaths are from breast cancer.
What Causes Cancer?
Cancer has been around for centuries, and we still don’t have concrete evidence for an exact cause. However, the general consensus is that less than 10 percent of all breast cancer cases are thought to be related to genetic risk factors. The remainder—90 percent—appear to be triggered by environmental factors.7
Our current society is very advanced compared to our forefathers, but that convenience comes at a price: many of the items we use on a daily basis are believed to increase a person’s risk of getting cancer
Carcinogens we encounter every day
Here are a few items experts believe are carcinogenic and increase the risk of getting breast cancer:
Acrylamide: This is a chemical found in starchy foods such as french fries cooked at high temperatures. It’s also found in tobacco smoke and diapers.
Benzene: This chemical is found in tobacco smoke, paint, gasoline, engine fuels and oils.
Halogenated organic solvents: Dry cleaning, hair spray propellant, and spot removers all contain this chemical.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): PFOA is found on non-stick cookware, rugs and clothes.
Heterocyclic amines: Tobacco smoke and meat cooked at high temperatures are the main sources of this harmful chemical.
MX: This chemical is a genotoxic byproduct of drinking water disinfection.
Unfermented soy products: Unfermented soy is high in plant oestrogens, or phytoestrogensIn some studies, soy appears to work together with human oestrogen and increases breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
This is just a partial list, but it’s clear that we encounter many of these carcinogens on a daily basis. It’s enough to discourage a person and lead them to believe there’s no way they can avoid this dreaded disease, but not so fast. There’s still hope.
Looking at the previous list, it appears that all women are destined to be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. There’s no getting around the many chemicals we encounter daily. They are in our homes, the cars we drive, and are cooking utensils.
There’s one very important thing we must remember: breast cancer has been around for centuries. There were no cars in ancient Egypt putting harmful pollutants in the air, yet they still had cancer. Hippocrates suggested breast cancer was caused by bile. They did not have dry cleaners or nonstick cookware at the family dinners in 460 B.C.
We may never know the exact cause of cancer, and living in a bubble is not an option. With that said, there are still some things a person can do to decrease their risk of getting breast cancer, and healthy cells play a vital role.
Cancer Cells: Divide and Conquer
Our bodies are made up of one hundred trillion cells. Each cell has a function, and eventually those cells die and are replaced by new cells. This occurs in our bodies every day, and keeps it running like a well-oiled machine.
In its simplest terms, cancer cells don’t die, they multiply. Normal cells stay in their designated area their entire lifespan, while cancer cells have the ability to invade other parts of the body, destroying all the good cells in their path. Stopping the spread and killing the cancerous cells is critical. This is where diet and a strong immune system comes into play.
Cell lifespans vary depending on what type of cell they are. For example, red blood cells live for approximately four months, white blood cells live for a year, and colon cells die after four days.8 When cells die, it’s critical they are replaced with new cells that are just as strong. An army is only as strong as its new recruits, and our bodies are no different. If the new cells are weak, the body becomes more susceptible to disease. This is why eating a healthy diet is extremely important.
The foods we eat on a daily basis must be of high nutritional value. The fast foods, junk and processed foods that are popular in today’s society should be eaten sparingly, if at all. These foods may taste good but they do more harm than people realize. In addition to health issues like weight gain, the junk food a person eats today will become the new cells in their bodies’ tomorrow. These new cells will be nutrient deficient and the immune system could be compromised. As a result, the body will start to wear down and be unable to fight off many diseases, including breast cancer but we can prevent it naturally.
The First Line of Defence: A Strong Immune System
The immune system is the first line of defense against all types of sickness and disease. It will kill germs, parasites and any foreign invader that attempts to harm the body. In order to keep the immune system strong, it must be fed healthy foods daily so it can ward off various ailments, including arthritis, AIDS, and cancer.
We must change our mindset when it comes to food. Eating is fun and a social activity, but its primary job is to fuel the body, keeping it healthy and strong.
Several foods have been specifically noted as possibly lowering the risk of breast cancer:
Walnuts: Research in the Nutrition and Cancer Journal suggests that walnuts may inhibit the growth of breast cancer because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
Broccoli: Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which according to tests at the University of Michigan, reduced the number of breast cancer stem cells in mice.
Olive Oil: Researchers in Barcelona found that the oxidants in olive oil stopped the growth of malignant cells.
Salmon: The omega -3 fats in fish such as salmon is believed to decrease a person’s risk of getting breast cancer, according to a study in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.
Peaches & Plums: Researchers at Texas A&M discovered that plums contain antioxidants that may help kill breast cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells intact.
In addition to the above foods, the following lifestyle changes may be beneficial:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- Reducing stress levels
- Exercise 30-60 minutes a day, 3 or more times per week
- Avoidance of alcohol, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and margarine
- Eliminating wheat from the diet
- Maintaining a healthy bodyweight
Breast cancer has been around for thousands of years. We may never discover the cause, but lifestyle changes may be the key to controlling or preventing the disease.