When was the last time you thought about your personal risk for breast cancer?
Even though it’s no longer National Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s never too late to start thinking about this important topic.
Don’t let the disappearance of pink ribbons rob us of the greater message of our hard won awareness: that despite all the money raised and the billions spent, we still have no guaranteed treatment or cure for breast cancer. In the meantime, the continuing war on cancer with the latest designer drugs or procedures is big business. Sometimes it works and we survive to race for the cure. But breast cancer keeps catching up and overtaking too many of us. One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, and in North America one woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes.
Still no cure. But we can take steps to prevent breast cancer.
Not every breast cancer is inherited. In fact, the majority manifest as the end result of risks we knowingly or unknowingly, take with our health every day: the overworked, overfed, overstressed, toxic lifestyle that over time becomes a breast cancer waiting to happen. Many of us are living this way. Many of us are at risk. So what do we do about it? Is it too late to reduce our odds? Can we do something, right now?
Two Steps You Can Take Now
Yes we can. As it turns out, two of the most important actions women can take to reduce breast cancer in our lifetime turns out to be losing weight and balancing hormone levels.
Two of the most important actions women can take to reduce breast cancer in our lifetime turns out to be losing weight and balancing hormone levels.
We know that the most common type of breast tumors are estrogen-driven, and that aromatase conversion in fat cells – the more fat cells we have the more estrogen we churn out – fuels their growth. A recent study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (Dec 2012, vol. 118), found that extra pounds—even within the overweight but not obese range—are linked to a 30% higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a nearly 50% higher risk of death despite optimal treatment.
We know too that users of hormone replacement therapy, (synthetic HRT) have increased rates of breast cancer following the landmark Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) which studied the health impacts of HRT use among women in menopause. When the results were published in 2002, HRT use plummeted by almost 50%, and for the first time in two decades breast cancer rates began to decrease. Between 2002 and 2003 they dropped by almost 7% in tandem with declining use of HRT.
Dr. John Lee, M.D. and David Zava, Ph.D. in their groundbreaking book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer were among the first to hammer home the connection between lifestyle, environment, hormone imbalance, and breast cancer.
“Experts agree that environmental risk factors, such as diet and exposure to toxins, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20%. Even those who happen to have a genetic predisposition can improve their chances of dodging a breast cancer diagnosis with hormone balance and a healthy diet.”
Tips to Help Dodge a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
First test your hormone levels. Undetected hidden imbalances such as estrogen dominance or high cortisol stress hormones are associated with higher risks for breast cancer. If for example, estrogen dominance is identified through testing, take steps to correct it ASAP. An estimated 97% of breast cancers are driven by estrogens that have become excessive in the absence of adequate progesterone, the hormone that keeps estrogen in check.
In case you haven’t heard yet, ZRT recently introduced two innovative test profiles that can assess breast cancer risk and help correct the silent hormone imbalances that seriously undermine breast health. Ask your doctor about ZRT's Hormone Metabolites and Weight Management tests.
- If testing reveals hormone imbalances and a need to supplement, talk to your provider about natural bioidentical hormones. If you are already using synthetic HRT, ask to be switched over to BHRT.
- Fill up on high fiber, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts that promote proper estrogen metabolism and help rid the body of accumulated toxic estrogens (see xenohormones below).
- Get your “good fats” from avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds to reduce inflammation, boost immunities, and help inhibit tumor growth.
- A daily dose of 64 oz. of water can flush out free radicals and toxins that invite cancers.
- Avoid bad “xeno” hormones by choosing hormone-free meat/dairy/poultry. Always microwave in glass or ceramic vs. plastic containers, drink from stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, and go “green” with household, garden and personal care products.
- Lower chronically high stress hormones, blood sugars and insulin levels that are the perfect storm for tumors to thrive. Prioritizing time to de-stress, eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise are HUGE when it comes to boosting your immune reserves against cancer.
By taking steps to balance our hormones we are turning awareness into action for breast cancer prevention. Not just in our own lifetime but in our children's and grandchildren’s as well.