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Christina Pirello

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Real Things You Can Do to Prevent Breast Cancer

Posted: 10/04/10 02:10 PM ET

And none of them involve pink ribbons. Each and every October finds us being bombarded with all things pink to raise awareness of breast cancer and of all the new treatment options available to us.

Seriously? Do they think for one second there is one person, one soul out there unaware of breast cancer? That disease enjoys some of the best marketing I have ever seen, with billboards, ads, celebrity endorsements. Now, now, don't get your pink ribbons in a bunch. This isn't a criticism of the brave women, their friends and families who are out there fighting for their lives and the lives of other women. This is about the misdirection that the month of October seems to have taken. And the way in which women are exploited by the fear these campaigns create.

See, once a woman finds that lump, well, all bets are off, so to speak. According to the expert staff at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center, by the time you discover that discernible lump in your breast, it has been thriving for two to five years. They add that it has been in your body long enough to spread. Yikes, right?

Once the lump is found, you jump on that merry-go-round of terrifying medical intervention. Treatments that can save lives also ravage the body, leaving a woman weak and spent. And while this intervention can save your life and in many instances does exactly that, it's a high price to pay for a disease that can be prevented.

Yes, I said it can be prevented. We have all been sold a bill of goods that make breast cancer seem almost inevitable. But genetics aside, that's not always the case. According to "What Doctors Don't Tell You," breast cancer has been made to seem random and unavoidable. It seems that not a day goes by without some announcement of new genetic research, diagnostic advances and innovative treatments. But in truth, only a very small percentage of breast cancer cases have a direct genetic cause.

Which leaves the majority of women out there missing the boat on prevention. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Dr. Ann Kulze, MD, author of "Dr. Ann's Ten-Step Diet" offers great guidance with a list of things we can do right now ... to do everything possible to prevent breast cancer and stop all these silly races, walks, shopping sprees and those damn ribbons!

1. Maintain a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25) throughout your life. Midlife weight gain has been shown to significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, an elevated BMI has been conclusively shown to increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

2. Minimize or avoid alcohol. The use of alcohol, according to Dr. Kulze is the most well-established dietary risk factor for breast cancer. The Harvard Nurses' Study, along with several others, has shown that consuming more than one alcoholic beverage a day can increase the risk of breast cancer by a much as 25 percent.

3. Eat as many vegetables and fruits as possible. Dr. Kulze says that seven or more servings daily are ideal. And of course she cites the superstars of breast cancer prevention: all cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), dark leafy greens, like kale and collard greens, carrots and tomatoes. Cook your veggies lightly so as to preserve as many antioxoidants and phytochemicals as possible. And cook your tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil to boost your assimilation of cancer-fighting, lycopene. And in the fruit department? Berries, cherries and citrus, all rich in vitamin C and other cancer-fighting compounds.

4. Exercise regularly for the rest of your life. Nope, you can't quit. Not if you want your breasts to stay healthy. Many studies, according to Dr. Kulze show that regular exercise provides powerful protection against breast cancer. Thirty minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking, five or more days a week... consistently is the key.

5. Do your fats right! Dr. Kulze says that it's the type of fat more than the quantity that can affect your risk of breast cancer. Maximizing your intake of omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats, nuts and seeds give you powerful cancer-fighting tools. Dr Kulze says to minimize your intake of omega-6 fats (like in sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed oils) along with saturated and trans fats to ensure your risk is at its most reduced.

6. Do your carbs right. According to Dr Kulze, minimizing consumption of high glycemic carbs or as she calls them 'Great White Hazards' including white flour, white rice, white potatoes, white or other refined sugars...and the products containing them is key to reducing your risk of breast cancer. These processed demon foods trigger hormonal changes that can promote cellular growth in breast tissue. Replace these health-stealing carbs with whole grains, beans and legumes whose high fiber content and phytochemicals ensure your risk stays low.

7. Eat traditional soy products. Ah, this is a big one with many doctors terrifying women about eating soybeans when they have breast health concerns. Soy has become somewhat controversial in recent years since soybeans contain phyto chemicals, one of which is phyto-estrogen. So everyone panics. Estrogen? Yikes!

According to research conducted by Cornell University, there are many ways that phytoestrogens may act in the body. While the chemical structure of phytoestrogens is similar to estrogen and they can act as mimics of estrogen, it's more likely that phytoestrogens have effects that are very different from those of real estrogen. Cornell research shows that phytoestrogen can block estrogen absorption at high doses, thus behaving in the same way as estrogen receptor cells that regulate a woman's estrogen levels. Cornell also has seen evidence of phytoestrogen affecting the 'communication' pathways between cells, preventing the formation of blood vessels to tumors.

While much of the research is inconclusive concerning phytoestrogens, epidemiologic studies have shown a positive association between the consumption of traditional soy foods and reduced breast cancer risk.

This is important to note. (I am sure the Weston Price people will crawl all over me on the soy issue...they are so anti-soy and pro-animal fat. Well, bring it on. The facts are the facts.) There is a big difference between organic, non-GMO, traditional soy foods like tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame and soy sauce and some of the processed soy foods out there masquerading as healthy products. Soy cold cuts, sausage, faux meats, many of the soy cheeses, hand, face and body creams, soups, breads, salad dressings, baby formulas, some soy drinks and all the myriad of products that use soy now that marketers have discovered that it's good for health. The problem is the quality of soy they have used is far from good for health. In order to include soy protein in all these refined, processed foods, the soybeans are de-fatted, acid washed and the neutralized in an alkalizing solution, leaving many of the proteins in the soybean de-natured and ineffective as a protein source. Plus there are a number of carcinogenic toxins in this version of soy. You can't make soy isolates in your kitchen. You can make tofu, tempeh, soy sauce and miso. You can grow edamame. Bottom line: if it ain't traditional soy, it ain't food.

8. But...minimize exposure to pharmacologic estrogens and xeno-estrogens. Which brings Dr. Kulze to the real problem with estrogen...and it ain't tofu. Prescription estrogens (unless carefully prescribed) and estrogen-like compounds like those found in environmental pollutants like pesticides and industrial chemicals, not to mention the real estrogen that is found in abundance in non-organic dairy products, meat and poultry. We need to worry much more about the real estrogen in our foods than we do about the phytoestrogens in soybeans. Women today are exposed to far higher concentrations of estrogen than in the past...real estrogen, over longer periods of time. It's something that we need to look at, question and eliminate from our food and environment.

You can control your exposure to estrogen. A study that was reported on in 'Human Nutrition: Clinical Nutrition' said that women whose diets were high in fiber and low in animal fat had a reduced risk of overexposure to estrogen and thereby a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Every single idea here is accessible, easy, natural and should be at the top of every woman's list. Wouldn't it be nice if we only wore pink because we liked it?

 
 
 

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