Top Strategies for Breast Cancer Prevention

Published on October 23, 2014 by Chantal Ann Dumas

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Or should I say ‘Breast Cancer Industry Month’? The Pink Ribbon industry’s propaganda discourse, corporate ‘pinkwashing’, and floodgates of pink ribbon products and promotions distract us from the fact that 1 in 9 Canadian women are still expected to develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 30 will die from it. These sad statistics have remained grossly unchanged over the past 20 years, except for a slight decreased incidence observed in the 2000’s associated with a large drop in the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) when its role in breast cancer was publicized. In Canada, the HRT use dropped by 7.8 percent between 2002 and 2004 and during that same time, breast cancer rates also fell by 9.6 percent. Contrary to common belief, routine mammograms have not had any real positive impact on breast cancer rates. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, mammograms seem to have reduced cancer death rates by only 0.4 deaths per 1,000 women, and a new study published in the British Medical Journal confirmed that breast cancer screening may cause women harm, especially during the early years after they start screening. In fact, 70 % of breast cancers are still found through breast self-exams.

While the Pink ribbon culture is focusing on mammograms and pharmaceutical drugs as preventive measures, in the largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer, the American Institute of Cancer Research estimated that about 40% of U.S. breast cancer cases could be prevented if people would make wiser lifestyle choices. Many believe this number to be really low, especially considering that only 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases can be linked to hereditary factors according to the American Cancer Society. Simply put, a healthful and balanced diet, regular physical activity, appropriate sun exposure, an effective means of managing stress, along with using a few key supplements could prevent roughly 90 % of breast cancers.

Supplements for Breast Cancer Prevention

A few supplements are crucial in our effort to prevent breast cancer. Although each case must be assessed individually, here are some broad recommendations:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters: There are over 100 published studies demonstrating vitamin D's anti-cancer effects! Unfortunately, at least 60% of women are found to be deficient in this critical substance. A "gold standard" double-blind, controlled study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women given supplemental vitamin D and calcium had a greater than 50% reduction in cancer risk over the 4-year trial compared to placebo. Higher serum levels of the main circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), are also associated with substantially lower incidence rates of breast and ovarian cancers.
Raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100-150 nmol/L) through diet, supplementation and appropriate sun exposure would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer each year, and 3/4 of deaths from this disease in the United States and Canada. According to most experts, ideal ranges for 25-hydroxyvitamin D are between 50-80 ng/mL. An intake of 2000 IU per day of vitamin D(3) is considered safe, but more is often needed to achieve ideal blood levels. It is also important to remember that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, so it's important to take it with the largest meal of the day to ensure maximum absorption.

Curcumin

Recently, the potential effect of curcumin on cancer cells has been recognized by the scientific community in the world. Curcumin is the active ingredient extracted from the plant Curcuma longa (turmeric) and has demonstrated chemopreventive and antitumoral activities against some forms of aggressive and recurrent cancers. Its multitargeted mechanisms of action have yielded compelling results in combating a remarkably broad array of cancers, including breast, uterus and cervix. Laboratory studies have shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread. Human studies of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment are in the early stages, but several phase I and phase II clinical trials indicate that curcumin is quite safe and may exhibit therapeutic efficacy. Curcumin is attractive both as a primary chemopreventive agent in women at risk for breast cancer and as an adjuvant treatment option in those who have already developed the disease. However, concern must be addressed with regards to curcumin’s bioavailability. Choosing a nanotechnology-based formulation such as Curcumin Active, which enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 100 times, can help ensure that you are achieving a clinical dosage.

Other Supplements

Based on clinical data, various nutritional supplements and medicinal herbs could also be helpful in preventing breast cancer including: CoQ10, Melatonin, EGCG (extracted from green tea), Black cohosh, Evening primrose oil, Artemisinin (a compound in wormwood), Shiitaki mushrooms and Pomegranate to name a few.

Top 20 Strategies for Preventing Breast Cancer

1. Drink at least 1.5 L of spring water daily.
2. Eat plenty of fresh, whole, organic vegetables, especially fermented and cruciferous vegetables.
3. Use one tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds daily.
4. Avoid all processed foods, minimize sugar, grains and starchy foods.
5. Eliminate or reduce meat and dairy consumption.
6. Don't grill or fry foods.
7. Emphasize olive oil and omega-3 fats found in cold-water fish, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts.
8. Incorporate at least 35 grams of fiber daily in your diet or add a fiber supplement such as Solufiber.
9. Exercise regularly.
10. Adopt effective strategies to manage your stress and mental health.
11. Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
12. Substitute coffee for 2 to 4 cups of freshly brewed green tea a day.
13. Do not smoke.
14. Sleep in complete darkness and avoid working night shifts.
15. Have babies and Breastfeed them exclusively for up at least 6 months each.
16. Avoid wearing underwire bras.
17. Avoid long-term oral hormone-based contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
18. Reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens (synthetic chemical compounds such as pesticides and industrial pollutants which have estrogen-like activity).
19. Conduct breast self-exams and practice breast awareness.
20. Opt for regular Thermographic breast screenings.

While too many women are still suffering the devastating effects of breast cancer, we now know that sensible changes to the diet, lifestyle and the adoption of a few targeted nutritional supplements could significantly reduce that situation. An interesting study showed that 80% of Canadian women with breast cancer are using complementary and alternative medicine, particularly nutritional supplements, to help manage their disease, suggesting that nutritional supplements shown to have activity against breast cancer would be widely embraced by these patients. While we all agree that additional studies to define mechanisms of action and to optimize dosages of individual nutrients thought to be of value in promoting breast health are needed, the recommendations proposed here can be implemented safely.

For additional information on breast cancer awareness, upcoming events, volunteering and donations please head over to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Image by © Voyagerix via DollarPhotoClub

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