Ways to prevent breast cancer….
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Today's post: Thursday, 2-8-2007
Ways to prevent breast cancer….
Not all women get breast cancer. And, some of the women who get breast cancer overcome it successfully.
This post has information designed to help you be in one of those two categories.
The three pieces of good news are:
1. The best way to overcome it if you do get it is to find it early. And, there are a number of new developments that make finding it more reliable & less of a problem to go through.
Digital mammograms are beginning to be more accurate in finding breast cancer if it’s present & less likely to raise a false alarm if you don’t have it than film based systems.
And, they do not need the kind of breast compression to be accurate that some women find an ordeal to go through with the older film based systems.
Digital mammograms have already been shown in one study to be somewhat more accurate in women who are younger or who have dense breasts.
That is significant since a recent study came out saying that women with dense breasts have a higher risk for developing breast cancer.
In addition, digital mammography is improving. And, there are indications that 3-D mammograms, even more accurate results, & lower total radiation totals are here or coming soon.
Since many of the film versions are still in use, you might need to wait longer to get a digital mammogram or make a special appointment to get one.
And, if you have a family history of breast cancer or you have dense breasts, it may be important to get the best digital mammogram you can find.
2. You may well be able to prevent getting breast cancer or delay its appearance or slow its growth. (Some of the things that do that may also help reverse it if it’s already present.)
3. If you do get breast cancer, the preventive measures can slow it down a lot.
And, there are four new ways to treat it that look as if they may be able to treat it with 100 percent success or close to it & some of them without extensive surgery or chemotherapy or harming you otherwise.
(That’s extremely fortunate since all surgery carries a risk of infection or death—even if it’s small; & chemotherapy in large enough doses to kill the cancer has a death rate also -- & recent studies say it can also cause brain damage.)
2. Second, here are some of the many things that tend to prevent or sharply slow down breast cancer.:
Two were reported in the news recently.
a) Regularly eating broccoli & cooked tomatoes AT THE SAME MEAL stopped the progression of prostate cancer in men who already had it as well as total castration.
(Since prostate cancer is in part driven or powered by sexual hormones & many breast cancers are as well, this is extremely significant.)
There is quite a bit more information in this post about broccoli & tomatoes as preventives also. Eating broccoli has been shown to prevent many cancers. And, eating tomatoes, particularly cooked tomatoes has been found to prevent cancers also. It’s very good that this evidence seems to show that eating both together is considerably more effective than either alone.
(There are also separate studies I’ve read about that suggest eating tomatoes & broccoli at the same meal is effective against many other kinds of cancers also.
And, I suspect the prostate cancer study was inspired by those.)
b) If you have ANY excess fat--which most of us do have, losing as few as ten pounds or so of it will reduce your risk of breast cancer & other cancers. A study on this was announced just recently. (Other studies show that just losing this much fat weight also has many other surprisingly large health benefits from lower blood pressure to lower heart attack risk.)
Fortunately, losing that small an amount of fat, if you haven’t already done so, is quite doable.
Even better, you may be one of the people that are behind the statistic that people in the United States take in 7 percent or more of their calories as soft drinks.
Or, as I was doing, you may be eating virtually NO vegetables.
So, if you either substitute water or tea or coffee that has no added sugar for ALL soft drinks (switching to diet soft drinks has proven NOT to help) OR you ADD a daily serving or two of vegetables with little or no added fat, you may find as I did that you will lose MORE than 10 pounds of fat without ever feeling hungry or eating less volume of food.)
Getting even a small amount of exercise regularly, if you haven’t been doing it, will also help you lose fat & keep it off.
And, even without losing the fat, it has been shown to have similar health benefits.
That includes a lower incidence of ALL cancers. People who exercise regularly have many fewer cancers than non-exercisers according to the studies that have been done.
c) Avoiding tobacco smoke is one of the best cancer preventive actions known.
People who don’t smoke & avoid exposure to second hand smoke have many fewer cancers of all kinds.
In fact, one doctor told me that well over half of the cancer patients, with all kinds of cancers, that he’d ever seen were smokers. Contrast that to the general population where only about 20 percent of the people smoke. Ouch.
And, for people who do continue to smoke, it’s imperative they NOT use cigarette lighters & use matches only. I saw statistics showing that lighter use was even more strongly related to cancers developed than just smoking. The hotter flame of the lighter apparently makes the smoke MUCH more cancer producing.
d) Eating less saturated fat & taking sterol supplements & eating soluble fiber containing foods all lower the dangerous kind of cholesterol & help to prevent heart disease.
Doing these things apparently slows cancer growth & may help prevent cancers.
Beef fed grass ONLY*; wild caught salmon & sardines; lean free range poultry; most seafood when prepared without butter; beans; eggs; & lentils all are excellent protein sources that have far less saturated fat than fatty, grain-fed beef & pork & MUCH less than cheese.
*(Beef from cattle that are grass fed but then penned up & overfed grain to fatten them, or “finish” them, is simply NOT as good for you to eat even if the feed give the cattle is organically raised grain as beef from cattle who have eaten ONLY grass & have NOT been purposely penned up & fattened.
Similarly, extra virgin olive oil has MUCH less saturated fat than butter, cream, & cheese.
Soluble fiber is in oatmeal, beans, lentils, & vegetables. Eating these foods reduces the saturated fat you take in & helps remove it from your body.
Sterols are in nuts, some vegetables, & in the supplements Beta Sitosterol & Saw Palmetto. Eating these foods reduces the saturated fat you take in & helps remove it from your body. And, taking the sterol supplements has been proven to lower your LDL cholesterol.
There are three possible reasons why reducing saturated fat intake & keeping your LDL cholesterol low protects against breast cancer.
Having too much LDL cholesterol or too much Oxidized LDL cholesterol may cause your body to over-produce or mis-process sex hormones.
Charring fatty meats produces some carcinogenic compounds.
And, author John Robbins found data suggesting that the highest intake of pesticides & herbicides came from eating those found in animal fats. The animals had eaten them in their feed & bioconcentrated them in their fats.
(Eating organic produce may be helpful, & very helpful in some cases of pesticide or herbicide overuse in nonorganic produce; but eating much less saturated animal fat is likely even more effective in reducing your exposure.)
e) Minimize your intake of omega 6 polyunsaturated oils; & try to NEVER eat foods cooked with them.
Eat zero or close to zero refined grains & eat whole grains in moderation. And, try to avoid eating foods containing soy, corn, safflower, & cottonseed oil.
Make a special effort to NOT eat meat from animals fed grain as this increases the amount of both the Omega 6 oils & the saturated fat they contain.
Omega 6 oils reduce your beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Most people in the United States eat five to ten times too much of them.
But worst of all, omega 6 oils impair your immune system; & one article I read said there is evidence that they INCREASE the incidence of cancers.
Further, they tend to break down into even less desirable compounds when heated.
f) Here is a list of other ways to prevent cancer.
Some may fit you & some may not.
*Make sure your sleeping area is as close to totally dark as possible. Taking melatonin has a very mixed review. But doing this increases your natural output of melatonin which is protective against cancer. The reverse is true also. People who sleep in more lit up locations get more cancers. And, this may be most true for the sex related cancers like breast cancer.
**If you have time to mess with it -- or your home is in area where it’s common, have your home tested for radon gas. You cannot sense it in any way. But it’s radioactive & known to cause cancers. And, there are ways to prevent its entry or vent it if the tests find it is present in your home.
***Get all the medical & dental x-rays you need. But avoid them as much as you can. And, try to have those tests done with the most up to date equipment that minimizes your x-ray exposure & still does a good job as a test.
(Mammograms are a special case as you can benefit greatly by catching breast cancer in its early stages. Deciding on how often to get them is a trade off or balancing act.
If you have dense breasts or a family history of breast cancer or if you eat unhealthful food; don’t take protective supplements, & never exercise, NEVER miss a recommended mammogram. If none of these apply to you, you MAY be OK with longer waits between mammograms. But even then, you should get them very regularly -- even if less often.)
****Avoid chemical air fresheners, pesticides, & herbicides in your home, yard, & garden.
Their listed ingredients are often carcinogenic. And, their so-called “inert” added ingredients, whether listed or not, often are carcinogenic also.
There are alternatives in most cases that work almost as well.
And, for herbicides & pesticides that you feel you must use, use as little as possible to get the job done; wear rubber gloves; & try to avoid breathing the fumes. Store them outside the area you live in; & wash your hands after applying them. (Also be sure to store them where small children cannot get into them.)
g) Eating foods & taking supplements that have been shown to have an antioxidant effect or to help prevent all cancers is quite doable.
Cruciferous vegetables, which, besides broccoli, include cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, & cauliflower, have vitamin C AND several kinds of phytonutrients that protect against cancers.
Animal based vitamin A in relatively small doses, 5,000 or 10,000 a day is an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer. (There have been some problems with higher doses of this form of vitamin A as it’s oil soluble & you can build up an overdose over time taking too much.)
However, plant based vitamin A & similar compounds, the carotenoids, do not have this problem as they are water based. Even better, eating the vegetables & some fruits that contain them helps you avoid excess bodyfat without hunger.
And, there is some evidence that eating a wide variety of carotenoid containing foods is the best way to boost your blood levels of them & that doing so is cancer preventive & may even help treat it.
Broccoli is in this group also! Its green color is more prominent than the orange colored carotenoids. Carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, & tomatoes are also in this group.
Even better, the main carotenoid in tomatoes is lycopene.
The points in the next section came from research done on prostate cancer. However, since breast cancer is also a sex related cancer, I think these discoveries apply to breast cancer also.
In addition, as a carotenoid antioxidant, a robust intake of tomatoes & lycopene has been shown to help prevent heart & related diseases which are also major killers of women.
Lycopene taken as a 30 mg a day supplement was researched directly as having some value as a prostate cancer preventative & may even have some value as a treatment. (You can buy 10 mg capsules of lycopene & take 3 a day to get this amount. And, I’ve been doing so since I read of this research.)
This research was sparked by separate studies that showed that men who ate the most cooked tomatoes had the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.
(Eating the cooked tomatoes along with extra virgin olive oil is thought to increase your body’s ability to use the lycopene just as cooking does by making the lycopene in the tomatoes more bioavailable. Adding onions or garlic might help prevent cancer according to some studies I’ve read about; but they definitely help prevent heart disease & can help make the cooked tomatoes taste much better.)
V8 juice & tomato juice even work though not quite as well. (Those are much less likely to be eaten with extra virgin olive oil than cooked tomatoes. And, that combination gives you the most bioavailable lycopene & other phytonutrients.)
Other foods thought to be cancer preventive include oranges & other citrus fruits & orange juice & strawberries. In fact virtually all berries are thought to be strongly cancer preventive.
Most fruits are likely to help from their vitamin C content & their high amounts of other antioxidants. Kiwi fruit; all berries, cherries, dark blue grapes, etc are all high in vitamin C and many other phytonutrients & antioxidants.
A study was announced recently that real fruit & vegetable juices are at least as health protective in most cases as the fruits & vegetables they are taken from. This study suggests strongly that it’s the antioxidants & phytonutrients that are most protective & that the fiber is not needed for this effect. (Fiber DOES help keep your blood sugars in the desirable range & to help keep you from getting too hungry & getting fat as a result.
More importantly, the fiber may be as important as the other nutrients in the case of prostate & other sexual cancers. Eating a lot of fiber tends to reduce sex hormones levels that are too high & the blood sugar & insulin spikes eating a lot of fiber helps prevent may also prevent cancer as high insulin levels may contribute to causing cancers.)
This does suggest that drinking real fruit juice will help prevent cancers & other diseases which drinking soft drinks will NOT do. But, also eating a wide variety of whole fruit & vegetables is protective against cancer as well. Our recommendation is to do both,
Lastly, taking 1,000 mg or more of vitamin C a day is protective. I saw one study showing that it slowed the degradation of the telomeres & slowed aging substantially. And, since some cancers are caused by DNA errors in older cells, I think it helps prevent cancers from this effect.
New evidence has been in the news recently that due to so many more people working inside & doing inside recreation & thereby getting less sun, the old RDA for vitamin D supplements of 400 iu a day may be as much as five or six times too low.
Further, some studies suggest that a robust intake of vitamin D tends to prevent all cancers.
In addition, the D3 form of vitamin D seems to increase your blood level of vitamin D your body actually uses more than the calciferol form in most multivitamins.
I suspect that taking at least 800 iu of vitamin D3 in addition to your regular multivitamin or any vitamin D fortified milk you drink is a good idea.
And a good bit more plus some extra sun exposure may be advisable:
In the AFP online health news on 2-6-2007, they reported a breast cancer study, published online in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
The researchers found that the women in the study with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D had the highest rates of breast cancer, and conversely, the women with the highest blood levels had the least, a fifty percent lower risk.
Their data suggests that taking 2,000 vitamin D3 daily and adding a 10 to 15 minute time each day to get sun exposure tends to produce the higher blood levels of vitamin D they found cut the risk by 50 %
Vitamin D3 supplements are widely available in health food stores & in the vitamin section of some grocery stores.
And, there is more good news for women about a good intake of vitamin D. When you also take in adequate calcium & get regular weight bearing exercise even if it’s only daily walks, your chances of developing osteoporosis drop significantly. It’s thought that the vitamin D helps your body move the calcium into your bones to make them stronger.
Natural vitamin E also helps as it is a powerful oil based antioxidant. And, of the 4 main kinds alpha, beta, delta, & gamma tocopherol, gamma tocopherol is thought to directly prevent prostate cancer.
Here again, I think this very likely will be found true for breast cancer also.
(Solgar makes a natural vitamin E with the standard 200 iu of alpha tocopherol which also includes some beta, delta, & gamma tocopherol. And, gamma tocopherol is a second ingredient in some other supplements also.)
(More than 200 iu of alpha tocopherol daily may not be wise according to one study. But taking that much of natural vitamin E & adding the other kinds through eating a wide variety of the foods high in them is not only safe, it’s likely to be MUCH more protective.)
Foods modestly high in vitamin E include avocados, nuts, seeds, & raw wheat germ. Some salad greens also have vitamin E.
Other supplements that are antioxidants include 200 micrograms a day of selenium.
People who take that much selenium & who HAVE cancer have a significantly lower death rate than those who have cancer & don’t take it according one study I saw reported. Plus it may well also help prevent cancers to begin with.
However, LOTS more than 200 micrograms a day is NOT better. It’s toxic. So stick to 200 mcg of the supplement & the amounts you do get from your food.
Another really valuable antioxidant supplement to add is alphalipoic acid. It’s an antioxidant that works both as soluble in water & as soluble in oil. In addition, it helps to recharge or increase the effectiveness of all the other antioxidants you take in.
Curcumin, which is in the spice turmeric, which in turn is in most curry powders, is an antioxidant that seems to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This effect may also help prevent all cellular damage & cancers. (It’s also available as a supplement.)
CoQ10 has many benefits & is also considered to be an antioxidant.
But its ability to increase the activity of your mitochondria, which produces many of its benefits, may not just prevent cancer, this action of CoQ10 may help turn existing cancers off. (There’s more information on that in the next section.)
3. Here are the 4 potentially most valuable breast cancer treatments I’ve read about.
a) A recently announced Canadian study has found evidence that the drug “dichloroacetate (DCA)” that is used as a treatment for damage to your mitochondria may, by revivifying your mitochondria in your cells – including any that are cancerous, may also turn the cancer cells back into normal cells. A recent study was reported saying that the drug had successfully revived mitochondria in cancer cells.
This treatment is new & not yet fully researched. But it could be incredibly important. Apparently all cancers turn off the mitochondria of the cells they take over so that all the cells do is divide & multiply. These researchers seem to have found that this drug turns the mitochondria in cancer cells back on. And, it looks like these cells are no longer cancerous after that.
Even better, this cellular effect is common to virtually ALL cancer cells no matter where they are in your body -- or which kind of cancer it is.
This exact treatment may be available soon, or even now from some doctors, as this drug is already in use.
The even better news is that this may explain why some people who have tried larger doses of CoQ10 have experienced some anticancer effects. And, since older people tend to have reduced CoQ10 levels, it may also partly explain why cancers tend to appear in older people mostly.
But the best current news is that this suggests that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 twice a day may also being very strongly preventive of getting cancers of all types.
Since you don’t need to wait on further research to do that -- & that much CoQ10 has so many other health benefits, this looks like a very good preventive strategy to me.
b) Another extremely promising line of research is to literally give your cancer cells a cold.
The promising research is looking at how to make this doable.
To your immune system, cancer cells often look like normal cells, so your immune system leaves them alone.
Although it may sometimes take longer than you’d like, your immune system will kill cold viruses. And, once it gets going, it’s extremely thorough. Even better, if those same kind of cold viruses show up again, they’ve had it as your immune system has learned to recognize them more quickly & attack them in force sooner. That’s why vaccines against diseases work.
The second problem is that your immune system is so good at killing the cold viruses that, when there are cancers cells present, most of the cancers cells never get infected.
Researchers are now working on a “polymer coat” that will disguise cold viruses enough that your immune system will ignore them. But when they then are able to get into the cancer cells, they harm the cancer cells which then split open & let some of the cold viruses escape.
Then your immune system goes into action killing the cold viruses; & the expectation is that it will also kill the cancer cells as they no longer look like normal cells to your immune system.
This one is still not completely researched as far as I’ve yet read.
But once this therapy or one like it is perfected to treat breast cancer cells, it will kill ALL breast cancer cells; kill them no matter where they are in your body; & kill them if they show up again later as long as your immune system is sensitized to them. That effect may wear off after several years or decades. But it certainly will ensure that none of the current crop of cancer cells survive.
c) Another superior treatment is already available, I understand, in some major medical centers. (I think Stanford Medical Center in California has one or more. And, I think many other similar medical centers do already or will soon.)
There is a radiation treatment called the “Cyberknife” that is both extremely effective in killing localized cancer cells in a definite location & has very few side effects according to what I’ve read.
It’s precise enough to focus its multiple beams ONLY where the cancer cells are & to so so well enough to ensure killing all the cancer cells that are in that location.
The other part is that it uses so many beams, 209, I think I read, that the surrounding health cells get so much less radiation they are spared serious damage.
The effect is like starting a fire with a magnifying glass on a sunny day. Holding the magnifying glass close to your hand, your hardly feels any extra warmth. But at the focal point, you can easily get temperatures high enough to ignite paper.
I have not seen studies to verify this yet. But this may mean that, of the methods of killing localized breast cancer cells, this one, the Cyberknife system used by doctors who are skilled in its use, is either least likely to cause – or simply does NOT cause -- the kind of nerve & other cellular damage that are common in other radiation methods & frequent in surgeries to kill or remove the cancer cells.
If you do become diagnosed with localized breast cancer, it looks like one of your best available bets.
And, if it succeeds, you may be able to keep your breasts.
This one is only for small & localized breast cancers that were found early I suspect. But you might be a candidate for it.
4. The last one I list combines a kind of chemotherapy with another agent. Chemotherpy has some risks & side effects; but if your doctors convince you chemotherapy is needed, this combination looks to be enough more effective to seek it out.
In its online news on 1-30-2007, HealthDay reports that combining a growth hormone blocker and a commonly used chemotherapy drug, successfully treated human breast cancer in the mice they used to test it.
Sometimes the cancer tumors were totally destroyed. And, even more important these were the kind of human breast cancer cells that were resistant to one of the most used chemotherapy drugs -- AND, which were estrogen-independent.
Estrogen-independent breast cancers are the most dangerous as they can more easily spread everywhere in the body—not just in the breasts. So, it’s the kind that tends to kill women.
In their combination, the researchers used taxol & a growth hormone blocker that effectively though temporarily blocked the body from releasing growth hormone.
The combination did the equivalent of making the breast cancer cells sick & starving them at the same time.
The growth hormone blocker reduced tumors by sixty-three percent on average. The version of taxol they used reduced tumors by an average of seventy-four percent. And, combining them reduced tumors by an average of ninety-seven percent; & 100 percent in some cases.
The authors of the study said that this approach would have far fewer side-effects than more commonly used kinds of chemotherapy.
The kind of taxol they used is apparently already used in people.
The bad news is that the growth hormone blocker they used & this combination have not been tested yet as safe & effective in people.
But if you do all the preventives we list, you may never get breast cancer; & by the time you do if you do, this combination treatment or one of the others listed here that kill ALL the cancer cells may well be well tested & in common use by the time you need to use them.