“As of January 2018, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.”
For those of you who don’t already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so I want to touch base on the topic a bit! Breast Cancer (and cancer in general) is such a huge topic to cover, and I will be coming back to it many times throughout this blog journey, but to get us started I am going to give you a little overview of breast cancer today, and the importance of early detection and PREVENTION!!! Breast Cancer Awareness month (as well as all cancer awareness months) has a goal of spreading awareness in the areas of cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. Many companies and organizations all across the country put on events, fundraisers, special sales, and produce special products all focused on breast cancer awareness. Now before I really delve into this just know I am not putting down any of these organizations or events that go on through the month, I feel they are very important especially in the department of emotional support and encouragement for those battling cancer or cancer survivors. There is nothing more powerful than a group of strangers gathering together and saying, “We see your struggle and we are here to support you in every way that we can!” I personally have attended such events in support or in memory of my loved ones who I’ve lost to the battle. So we go to these events, we do our part, we show our support, we give our money to the cause… but do we really know where all of this money goes? Like I said the purpose in all of these cancer awareness campaigns and events is to raise money for research on cancer causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. Well if we really dig deep into the flow of these funds we will realize quickly that most all of this money goes back to the organizations and the little amount that does go into cancer awareness mostly goes to treatment research meaning Big Pharma… aka chemo and radiation. The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission is to, “Help those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services.” Again, I am not saying any of these things are bad, I just don’t understand why prevention is not their first mission or even apart of their mission!?! It blows my mind every day that we are living in a world where cancer is becoming the norm, and people have little exposure to real cancer prevention education… The information is there but it is not being pushed on people and the reason for this is because if these organizations actually put money and time into cancer prevention then big pharma won’t be getting their big fat paychecks at the end of the month. I could go on and on about my thoughts on the corruption of our health care system in terms of cancer awareness and this horrible war on cancer our society is battling right now, but where I am really going with all of this is my belief that prevention is the cure for cancer! Now, cancer prevention education can get a little tricky. Cancer research is all fairly new in the big scheme of things and there are so many different answers coming out of today’s research on the “how’s” and the “why’s” to causes of cancer and prevention protocols. This is why many of these big organizations supporting breast cancer awareness say “There is no sure way to prevent cancer.”, and that is why they don’t waste their time or money on prevention. Well with my background in holistic health and healing I know that everybody is different and unique, and there are so many different ways in which we can heal and prevent all types of disease. Just because there are so many ways to prevent disease does not mean we should not educate about it. If anything, that makes me believe that all this funding should be going straight into prevention if there is so much that needs to be researched still. So in honor of breast cancer awareness month, in honor of my loved ones I have lost to the battle, in honor of my loved ones who are currently fighting the battle, and in honor of all individuals who have been affected by this disease in one way or another here are my
Top 10 ways in which you can reduce your risk and possibly prevent yourself from getting breast cancer…
- Avoid tobacco products: This one may seem obvious to some, but it is so important I am listing it as number 1… Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, 70 of which have been identified by IARC as human carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). The obvious and most harsh of them all is Nicotine. Just to name a few more… Hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, ammonia, radioactive elements (such as uranium), benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrosamines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This small list alone should be enough to stop someone from wanting a cigarette but unfortunately, it is all these chemicals that make us want them so bad! It is a vicious cycle and I know all about it first hand because I smoked cigarettes throughout my early twenties. Not something I like to admit being a holistic health advocate but we all have to learn the hard way sometimes!
- Keep your weight down: Research is beginning to show a strong connection between obesity and cancer. Really it’s pretty simple…fat in the body sends signals throughout causing hormone production and growth factors to take place. Hormones and growth factors are what tell our cells to divide. Well, when we have excess fat in the body our cell division drastically increases, when it is not necessary, and that is when a tumor is formed. Chronic low-level inflammation, which most obese individuals have, is also a large factor. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer, as reported by Cancer Research UK.
- Exercise: There is much research out there today supporting the link between physical activity and lowering your risk of cancer. The benefits of exercise are numerous, such as lowering levels of hormones and growth factors (this is especially important with breast cancer), helping prevent obesity, reducing inflammation, and altering the metabolism, which decreases gastrointestinal tract exposure to potential carcinogens being digested.
- Live a lifestyle that supports a healthy immune system… cancer is something that is almost always occurring in our bodies, but thanks to our amazing immune system our bodies are able to fight off cancer before it turns into an issue. “Getting cancer” is not something that just happens overnight. It is not a flu virus that you catch from your coworker, or a bacterial infection that surfaces in a cut. Cancer is a collection of diseases in the body, meaning that it is all of the damaged infected cells in our bodies that never die off. The ins and outs of cell division and replication in the human body can go very deep. I am going to sum it up with saying that healthy cells grow and divide, replicating as the body needs. When new cells come in, old and damaged cells die so the new cells can take over. Our immune systems are responsible for killing off these old damaged cells, but what happens when your immune system is weak, bogged down from diseases such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites? It can’t keep up!! And that is when these old damaged cells start replicating and new cells form when they are not needed, building up causing tumors. Keeping your immune system strong, is essential in preventing this from happening!
- Avoid environmental toxins: Some may find this as silly advice as we live in such a contaminated environment at this point it is impossible to avoid all environmental toxins, but educating yourself on what toxins are cancer causing and eliminating what you can from your environment certainly won’t hurt the cause! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Toxicology Program (NTP), and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) are all great resources for information of human carcinogens.
- Detox!: Because it is impossible to avoid all toxins in our environment, food, and water today, detoxing your body is such an essential aspect of preventing cancer! There are so many different ways you can detox your body which reboots your system and helps your eliminative organs catch up on their natural detoxing processes. Your liver and kidneys (among other organs) do so much for your body and your health. Show them a little appreciation by detoxing a couple times per year! It’s not that hard 🙂 I am currently doing a juice cleanse, and if you stick with me in this holistic health blog journey I will be covering detoxing, juicing and fasting in the near future!
- Avoid synthetic hormone therapies and estrogen-progestogen contraceptives: Estrogen menopausal therapy, Estrogen – progestogen contraceptives (combined), and Estrogen – progestogen menopausal therapy (combined), have all been identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as known human carcinogens that cause breast cancer! There are many natural alternatives to hormone therapies and contraceptives. And there are many professionals in the alternative healthcare world who are well educated in the area… reach out to your local naturopath!
- Eliminate or lessen your alcohol intake: Alcohol is now being linked to mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast cancer! There are many reasons as to how alcohol can cause different cancers that are still being researched today, but one thing we know for certain is the more alcohol you drink the more likely you are to get one of the cancers listed above.
- Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food: I’ve already talked about this in previous posts and will talk about it many more times to come! Our food is what fuels us, and we are what we eat. If we keep eating this contaminated processed western diet those cancer statistics are going to keep rising! A recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer showed a 9% increase in breast cancer risk due to eating processed meats. There are many more studies linking many other processed foods to cancer risk. Eat Clean Whole Foods! As well as cancer-fighting foods such as green tea, turmeric and cruciferous veggies (just to name a few!)
- Consume Green Tea: Last but not least drink green tea! We have so much information on our website on the relationship between green tea and cancer prevention, but I will give a little summary here… Green tea contains catechins which are known to be the most beneficial antioxidants (more so than vitamin C & E), towards cell protection in regards to free radical damage. Among those catechins we have EGCG, which is the most powerful of the subclasses, and responsible for killing off cancer cells without affecting any healthy cells. In fact, these catechins protect our healthy cells from these pesky cancer cells! Out of this list of “preventive To-Do’s”, consuming green tea is truly the easiest most simple step you can take towards supporting your body in avoiding or fighting off cancer! All it takes is a few cups a day to make a difference. It’s as easy as heading over to Sei Mee Tea’s online store, ordering a jar of Matcha or Sencha and having it in your cupboard in as little as 2 business days! AND it will be hand packaged and gift wrapped by yours truly! 🙂
Thanks again for reading this weeks post and stay tuned for next weeks post on step by step instructions on how to make your own green tea deodorant, that not only has NO carcinogens in it but will help detox your underarms and lymph nodes in that region! *This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine. Resources: American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2012. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. B. (2018, October 5). Analysis Links Processed Meat to Breast Cancer Risk, But Leaves Many Questions Unanswered. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/does-processed-meat-increase-risk Balch, P. A. (2010). Prescription for nutritional healing: The A-to-Z guide to supplements. New York, NY: Avery. Bollinger, T. (n.d.). The Latest Cancer-Fighting News. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/ Does obesity cause cancer? (2018, October 17). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/obesity-weight-and-cancer/does-obesity-cause-cancer Harmful Chemicals in Tobacco Products. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/carcinogens-found-in-tobacco-products.html I. (2011). Preventable Exposures Associated With Human Cancers. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://monographs.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Cogliano_2011_JNCI_Preventable_Exposures.pdf N. (2016). Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The National Breast Cancer Foundation. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month Physical Activity and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet T. (2017, September 21). What Is Breast Cancer? Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/what-is-breast-cancer.html T. (2017, April 14). Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection? Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/diet-and-physical-activity.html
Meet the Author: Mackenzie