This month marks the 25th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While this milestone represents a major advancement in awareness and education, many still wonder if there's anything they can do to help reduce risk. "Big time," says China Rose Reid, N.T.P., C.C.H., and lead practitioner at our Napa store. As a co-founding member of the weekly Cancer Connection group that meets at Pharmaca, China Rose shares her answers for better breast health.
Is breast cancer considered to be related to genetics, the environment or both?
Breast cancer is the end result of a multistage process that includes unhealthy cell alteration and multiplication. The causes of this complex process may include your inherited susceptibility, prolonged exposure to chemicals in your environment, as well as unaddressed health imbalances.
Are there lifestyle steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer?
1. Drink plenty of water. Half of your body weight in ounces per day is a good start (160 lbs = 80 oz / day). This will allow for proper cellular communication and detoxification, both of which are necessary for a healthy body.
2. Eat properly prepared, nutrient dense, whole foods. This will provide the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats your body needs. Think colorful vegetables and raw preparations.
3. Reduce your stress levels. Prolonged stress disrupts normal body functioning. The hormones produced when we are under stress actually contribute to the breakdown of your body.
4. Get 6-8 hours of sleep. This is the time during which your body repairs and regenerates itself. Without it you will see your health slowly decline.
5. Exercise regularly. This will improve circulation which also improves detoxification.
6. Do your best to have a positive outlook, have fun, and surround yourself with people that are good for you. Our emotional wellbeing has everything to do with our physical health. Improve your mindset and watch your health follow.
Are there things that have been shown to increase your risk?
One of the big players in the development of breast cancer is estrogen dominance. This is a hormonal imbalance in the body where estrogen levels are higher than they should be for prolonged periods of time. Estrogen encourages cell growth which, in excess, can contribute to the proliferation of unhealthy cells in breast tissue.
Among many causes of estrogen dominance is the existence of xenoestrogens (xeno meaning foreign). These are man-made chemicals in our environment and our food that get absorbed into our bodies and actually mimic estrogen. I know, crazy right? You can reduce your exposure to excess estrogen by avoiding the following things:
Plastic: water bottles, food containers, bags, toys, etc.
Herbicides and pesticides: on your food and in your yard
Meat and dairy products containing growth hormones: Buy organic and rBGH free!
Some conventional "anti-aging" skincare products: Estrogen is "skin plumping."
Which products can be useful for helping reduce your risk?
There are herbs and supplements that can help your body to detoxify from environmental chemicals and excess estrogen. These include liver and gallbladder supportive herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, and turmeric as well as supplements like fish oil, antioxidants, and calcium d-glucarate.