Recently I’ve been confronted with not 1, but 2 of my very closest friends receiving a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 40.
It’s been quite a shock for them to process… as well as for myself (although I realise they have had to go through much more than me!)
Fortunately what this bad news has meant is that I’ve become a lot more aware of the prevalence of cancer as a disease… as well as how important it is to be aware of ways to prevent and detect cancer in your own body.
While I certainly am someone who recommends that women get regular mammograms and ultrasounds, these are often portrayed as the best form of “prevention” a woman can get BUT early diagnosis is not the same as prevention! And cancer screening can hardly qualify as “your best bet” against becoming a cancer statistic.
The good news is that the vast majority of all cancers can possibly be prevented by applying healthy lifestyle strategies.
While not a cure-all for cancer I am certainly aiming to implement many of these into my own lifestyle – they can’t harm me, right!?
How to Reduce your Cancer Risk
All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Refined fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible. This automatically means avoiding processed foods, as most are loaded with fructose (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup, HFCS).
Optimize Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should probably be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I’m aware of, with no adverse effects. Ideally, your levels should reach this point by exposure to the sun or a safe tanning bed, not oral vitamin D.
Newer research has emphasized the importance of the mTOR pathways. When these are active, cancer growth is accelerated. One way to quiet this pathway is by limiting your protein to one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or roughly a bit less than half a gram of protein per every pound of lean body weight. For most people this ranges between 40 and 70 grams of protein a day, which is typically about 2/3 to half of what they are currently eating. Replace meat for fish and nuts as the main source of your protein
While relooking your diet, you will also be wise to watch your salt intake. Rather substitute salt with fresh herbs and spices. Research has shown a strong connection between eating large amounts of foods preserved by salting and pickling with an increased risk for stomach cancer and other diseases like hypertension. Fast foods and processed foods are the biggest culprits.
Avoid Unfermented Soy Products
Unfermented soy is high in plant oestrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human oestrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
It is vital to improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity and the best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and restricting carbs to mostly fiber vegetables.
One of the primary reasons exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks. It’s also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die. Studies have also found that the number of tumors decrease along with body fat, which may be an additional factor. This is because exercise helps lower your oestrogen levels, which explains why exercise appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
This will come naturally when you begin eating right and exercising. It’s important to lose excess body fat because fat produces oestrogen. Make unsaturated fats the primary source of fat; as well as unrefined grains, legumes and fruit as the primary source of carbohydrates. Fibre that is found in whole grain products and cereals, fruit and vegetables is also likely to provide protection against bowel cancer.
Drink Organic Green Vegetable Juice Daily
Take Omega 3 Supplements
Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. It actually has the most evidence-based literature18 supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D. For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.19 It’s important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I’ve provided several absorption tips here. Newer preparations have also started to emerge, offering better absorption. For best results, you’ll want to use a sustained release preparation.
At the very least you should limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
Avoid Electromagnetic Fields
Did you know that even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
Avoid Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
This is especially NB if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer is an oestrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.) If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
Avoid BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens
These are oestrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
Eat Iodine Rich Foods
Make sure you’re not iodine deficient, as there’s compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.
Avoid Charred Meat
Charcoal or flame-broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide — a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, or fried — has been found to increase cancer risk as well.
Reduce Sun Exposure & Avoid Sun Beds
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other strategies that can be useful as well. One excellent resource is Dr. Christine Horner’s book, Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner’s Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer, which contains research-proven all-natural approaches for protecting against and treating breast cancer.
Arm Yourself with Information So You Can Take Control of Your Health
Many women are still unaware that the science backing mammograms is sorely lacking. Instead of being told the truth, women are guilt-tripped into thinking that skipping their yearly mammogram is the height of irresponsibility. It can be hard to stand your ground against such tactics. After all, you expect health professionals to know what they’re talking about, and to give you the best advice possible.
Mounting research shows that more women are being harmed by regular mammograms than are saved by them. Please understand that there are other screening options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and you have a right to utilize those options.
Also remember that in order to truly avoid breast cancer, you need to focus your attention on actual prevention and not just early detection.
The knowledge that only 10% of cancers result from hereditary factors and the rest are caused by the environment is encouraging, as this means that by making smart lifestyle choices and avoiding known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), you not only improve your overall health, you also reduce your cancer-related risk.
By making smart choices around your diet, fitness, weight and lifestyle in general, you significantly lower your risk of developing cancer.
Here you will find out more about how to make smart choices and what you need to do to reduce your cancer risk.
Images: Stock Library / Shutterstock