Our body is made up thousands of cells that differ in size, shape and function. Controlled by our DNA, each cell is programmed to perform certain tasks, and after a specified period of time, die. This is normally done in an orderly manner. However, if our cells are exposed to carcinogens, viruses or ionizing radiation, for example, the DNA can become damaged, creating havoc with this once-orderly process. Said another way, if the rate of new cell growth in the body overcomes the rate of cell death, tumors can develop. If these cells invade and destroy surrounding normal tissues, the abnormal cell growth is considered to be cancerous.
In the U.S., breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 30 and 50. Rarely diagnosed before a woman reaches 25, the number of incidents rises with age, peaking at menopause and decreasing once menopause had passed. About 182,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and about 40 percent of those diagnosed die within 10 years. Scientists believe these numbers are increasing.
Overwhelming evidence into the cause of breast cancer suggests the female hormone estrogen plays a central role in this disease. Studies indicate that estrogen stimulates the cells of the breast to form cancerous cells. Thus, a prolonged uninterrupted presence of high estrogen levels in the body may predispose a woman to breast cancer.
These studies also indicate the less time a woman is exposed to her own reproductive hormones, the lower risk of developing breast cancer is. This includes women who enter menses at a later age, as well as women who enter menopause, both naturally and artificially, before the age of 45. Pregnancy, breast feeding, physical activity and a low-fat, high-fiber diet help to reduce the amount of estrogen flowing through the body.
Additional risk factors for developing breast cancer include a family history of breast cancer. If your mother, sister or aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, it may indicate a genetic predisposition to this disease. Women who have not had children, or women who did not have their first child until after the age of 30, have been identified as having a two to five times greater risk. Women who take birth control pill or utilize estrogen replacement therapy after menopause also are at a greater risk. Other factors that can increase your chances of getting breast cancer include: weight, dietary fat intake, alcohol consumption, dietary deficiencies and certain types of fibrocystic breast disease.
Recommendations for wellness
- Do monthly breast self-examination. If you don’t know how, ask your gynecologist. If you are over 40, it is recommended that you get a mammogram and begin a regular screening program.
- Get rid of your under-wire bras. These bras don’t cause breast cancer, however, they do restrict the flow of lymph in the breast tissue, thus allowing toxins and waste products to build up.
- If it is possible, have your babies earlier than later. Having your first child before the age of 30 will help reduce your risk. Breast feeding your child for 6-8 months will reduce your risk even further.
- Think twice before taking birth control pills as a form of contraception or for menstrual irregularities.
- Reduce your fat intake. Studies have shown that women who eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet have lower estrogen levels than women that don’t.
- Eat soy! Soy has been shown to block the type of estrogen involved in the formation of breast cancer. Note: If you suffer from hypothyroidism, soy may reduce thyroid hormone levels.
- Nutritional deficiencies weaken the body’s systems. Begin a diet filled with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, make sure you take a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure your body is getting all of the nutrition it needs.
- Barley Greens and Nature’s Sunshine’s Immune Stimulator can be used to strengthen the body and support the immune system.
- Do a liver cleanse! The liver is responsible for breaking down hormones that have served their function and eliminate them from the body. Use herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root or burdock to keep your liver healthy.
Indole-3 carbinol is found in cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts). It has been shown to reduce the amount of the carcinogenetic forms of estrogen and increase the good kinds of estrogen in the body.
Essiac Tea is popularly used as an additional supplement to support the immune system of individuals suffering from cancer.
In preliminary studies, paw paw twig extracts have be used to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In one study, some breast cancer patients experienced partial or complete tumor reduction. Talk to your health care provider before taking this supplement. It should not be taken with a number of other supplements, such as antioxidant products and Co-Q10. If you have Parkinson’s Disease you should not take this substance.