Breast Cancer: How To Prevent The Monster
Breast cancer is a leading cause of death in women aged 45-55, but nowadays it’s affecting women in their late 20s too. The majority of these cases are hormone- sensitive breast cancers. The breast-cancer risk factors supported by research and conventional medicine (early periods, late menopause, never being pregnant or pregnancy after the age of 30, never having breast-fed, family history of breast cancer, etc) can no longer fully explain its high incidence. Today, one in eight women suffers from breast cancer, which is much higher than 50 years ago, when this ratio was one in 20. Furthermore, 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer.
It is in our environment
Something in our environment is increasing the numbers, and we can now confidently label breast cancer as an environmental disease. New research has provided more evidence that, for this hormone-sensitive cancer, toxicity in our environment is immensely responsible. A recent study recognized 17 chemicals as a cause of breast cancer.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IAEC 2012), preventable risk factors for breast cancer include increased weight after menopause, medical radiation, reproductive history characteristics, lack of physical exercise, alcohol consumption (two to three glasses daily increases risk by 40- 70%), HRT, the combination birth control pill, diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth and tobacco. The latest research is aimed at identifying toxic substances from our environment that are increasing breast-cancer incidence, to encourage prevention by the public as well as by conventional doctors. One group that is well recognized by integrative medicine is the xenoestrogen group, which encompasses synthetic chemicals that mimic natural estrogen. It has been linked to many health problems, including breast cancer. Many of them are present in a woman’s everyday life: phthalates and parabens from personal-care and cosmetic products, bisphenols from receipts and plastic bottles, polystyrene food packaging, fuel exhaust, pesticides, food preservatives, etc.
What does the science say?
Science supports that estrogen-sensitive cancers are more frequent in women with the genes responsible for an unfavorable estrogen metabolism. Some of these detoxification genes are responsible for the formation of dangerous estrogen metabolites that damage DNA and can initiate the development of breast cancer. Others decrease estrogen clearance (methylation), which contributes to estrogen dominance. One such gene is COMT, which increases the risk of breast cancer four-fold. Research has concluded that xenoestrogens may strongly inhibit COMT-mediated methylation and facilitate the development of estrogen-induced cancers. Nutritional deficiencies (including folate deficiency) can also contribute to this problem. To put it simply, the presence of a gene doesn’t mean much if a person is living a “clean” lifestyle and has balanced nutrition. The opposite is also true; a very toxic lifestyle can “switch o ” the genes responsible for estrogen detoxification and the accumulation of dangerous estrogen metabolites happens. (This is known as the epigenetic effect.) Identifying an individual’s estrogen metabolism by checking genes and metabolites, and recognizing the environmental toxins present, is the foundation of breast-cancer prevention.
Integrative medical physicians have a well-defined strategy for manipulating this gene-environment interaction. One example
is the use of I3C, which has similar effects to Tamoxifen. Studies con rm that T3C inhibits the growth of estrogen-positive (ER+) breast-cancer cells by 90%, compared to 60% by Tamoxifen. It is imperative to address estrogen dominance, irrespective of whether it is coming from a women’s own estrogen or environmental chemicals that mimic it. at is why integrative medical doctors recommend bioidentical hormones rather than HRT. HRT contains equine estrogen and chemically altered progestins, well recognized in studies to be carcinogenic. Studies have established that bioidentical progesterone can prevent breast cancer in estrogen-dominant women (who are lacking sufficient progesterone).
The cause of breast cancer is multifactorial, and that makes prevention more difficult.
A recent meta-analysis of five studies published by Anticancer Research (USA) found that patients diagnosed with breast cancer who had high vitamin D levels had double the survival rate of women with low levels. A high intake of carbohydrates doubles the risk. Insulin resistance, with constantly high insulin levels, increases the risk of breast cancer by more than 200%. Low vitamin D, high insulin, toxic lifestyles, estrogen dominance and high alcohol intake could explain why some women are the first to develop breast cancer in families without a history of it.
Clearly, the complex nature of breast cancer makes prevention difficult. Discoveries in scientific publications relating to cause and prevention should be adopted by conventional and integrative doctors, associations and the public to fight this 21st-century monster.