October is breast cancer awareness month and by now most of you have probably noticed a few more pink posters, wrist bands and pink ribbons floating around than usual. The Keystone staff chose “pink awareness” as our theme for casual Friday (see picture) earlier this month. Unfortunately, most of us don’t need to see pink cleats on our favorite NFL running back to remind us of this devastating disease. The prevalence of breast cancer indicates that most people have known someone with such a diagnosis. Approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States are predicted to develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Personally, it has touched my life through my aunt and a very good lifelong friend from high school.
Awareness is certainly a great idea, but what can we DO to prevent this epidemic? Much of the breast cancer campaign focuses on encouraging women to get regular screenings (mammograms) to identify the disease for early treatment. Yet, critical information about those preventative or proactive steps a woman can take to possible avoid breast cancer seems lost in the message. Identifying risk factors for breast cancer and guiding women to reduce these risks should get some of the spotlight.
We know the basics:
• Avoid toxins
Obesity causes inflammation and insulin resistance, two key risk components in any cancer or disease. Break away from the “SAD” or standard American diet. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients in your food, it is not food. Find a way to eat whole foods, not processed. Eat more broccoli! It contains a chemical that helps the liver metabolize estrogen down safe pathways. Get more fiber in your food.
Toxins are cumulative, so any improvement in your overall load is advised. Even 1 alcoholic drink per day can increase your risk, so moderate alcohol and caffeine. Absolutely NO smoking. Avoid sugary drinks or artificial sweeteners—replace with good old water.
Some supplements may be beneficial in the quest to prevent this epidemic. Research shows women with lower serum levels of Vitamin D (<47) are at a higher risk. Omega 3 (not 6) Essential Fatty Acids are anti-inflammatory. Iodine, a good B-complex and probiotics may also be good additions. Consult with your physician, your pharmacist, or a certified nutritional consultant like Brandi Grimmer to pick out the right supplements and doses.
Garland CF. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. Anticancer Res. 2011 Sep;31(9):2939-48.
www.cancer.org (accessed 10/7/2013)
Dr. Christopher Nagy, MD lecture “Keeping A_Breast” (firstname.lastname@example.org on Youtube)