Natural Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is one of the most pervasive illnesses that women deal with today—one in eight women will be affected by it in their lifetimes. That’s why this Breast Cancer Month we’re focusing on some ways to reduce breast cancer risk.

Reduce exposure to plastics

Research suggests that the BPA found in many plastics, which can leach from containers into the contents when scratched or heated, has estrogen-like activity that disrupts hormones. By throwing off the body’s hormonal balance, your body may be more prone to develop hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Click here for more information about the most important plastics to avoid, such as PET, PVC and polystyrene.

Choose organic and natural

While there haven’t been direct correlations between pesticides in food and risk of breast cancer, most experts agree that it’s good to reduce your exposure to all chemicals, many of which can act as hormone disruptors (e.g Atrazine, a common herbicide used on corn and sorghum). That means eating foods that have been grown organically, and choosing home cleaning products that are powered with plant-based cleansing agents instead of chemical ones.

Practice regular, loving exams

Janine Pera, herbalist at our store in Novato, Calif., recommends a monthly self-exam that incorporates massage to help reduce any feelings of anxiety that can accompany normal self-exams. She adds that breast massage can also help keep the lymphatic system moving and clear out toxins. Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about essential oils that can help in this practice.

Avoid anti-perspirants

We’ve all heard about the connection between anti-perspirants and breast cancer, and though it has yet to be clinically documented, Janine says there are valid reasons to stick to deodorants. “The job of anti-perspirants is to keep you from perspiring, but that’s our way of detoxifying,” says Janine, adding that it’s especially important to allow for that detox in such close proximity to the breasts. (Click here for information on the topic from the National Cancer Institute.)

Instead, choose a deodorant with essential oils. “Deodorant is for the odor, which is caused by bacteria,” says Janine. “Some essential oils have antibacterial properties to them and work really well for deodorant.” Look for antibacterial essential oils like thyme, mint, cinnamon and clove.

Stock up on cruciferous veggies

The health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage and kale, have been well-researched. The powerful antioxidants in these veggies can, among other things, help metabolize hormones, which can be helpful for a variety of women’s issues, from breast cancer prevention to premenstrual syndrome.

You can boost your intake of these important antioxidants through supplements such as New Chapter’s Broccolive, which is packed with extracts of broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and mustard. Or try Indole-3-Carbinol from Thorne Research, which helps maintain proper estrogen ratios. And Natural Factors’ Estrosense combines indole-3-Carbinol with broccoli sprouts and anti-inflammatory herbs. “Even starting in one’s 30s can be helpful,” says Janine.

Because doctors can’t link the development of cancer to any one risk factor, there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer. Nevertheless, our practitioners always recommend a healthy lifestyle, balanced nutrition and positive mind-body practices to help achieve optimal wellness.