Breast Cancer Awareness: Prevention is Key Until We Find a Cure

Before 1992, the month of October was simply the time period on the Gregorian calendar that noted the seasonal transition from Mother Earth’s abundance of warm, life promoting sun, to less sun and more cooler temperatures.  Cool temperatures that sobered us up and awakened us to the resilience of her beauty painted across the landscape with symbolic fall foliage, as she prepared for a long, cold winter.


And perhaps this is why the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation designated October to be the official month for breast cancer awareness and branded the event with its own color—a pink ribbon.


The color pink was selected to remind women that in as much as we are like the summer season—beautiful, feminine, nurturing life givers—some of us would also transition into a season of sobering coolness in our health as we face the staggering statistics that 1 in 8 of us will develop breast cancer.  But more important than that, the color pink is also the symbol of hope that we promote as we rally together in sisterhood to bring awareness about breast cancer facts and possible ways that we can naturally prevent ever getting it.


Know the Quick Facts:


 What is Breast Cancer?

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women worldwide.  Every year 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 of those diagnosed will actually die.
  • Black women are more likely to die than any other ethnic group that’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, which is concluded in the research that shows their death rate at 40%.
  • Even though younger women make up about 11% of newly diagnosed breast cancer cases, women 50 and older are affected the most.
  • Research has shown that smoking puts you at risk for developing breast cancer.
  • Having one alcoholic drink per day slightly increases your risk for developing breast cancer, while having more than one per day will greatly increase your risk.  Note: Alcohol increases estrogen levels in your blood stream and high levels of estrogen has been linked to breast cancer.
  • Using contraceptives for five consecutive years can increase your risk of developing breast cancer, and
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.


The Symptoms of Breast Cancer 

  • A discharge from the nipple that’s not milk
  • Unexplained shrinkage or swelling in the breast
  • A lump in the breast or in your underarm pit
  • Pulling in the nipple or pain in the nipple or breast area
  • Change in the shape or size of the breast, and
  • Unexplained shrinkage of the breast


Screening for Breast Cancer

  • Getting screened through mammograms or self-breast exams can aid in detecting breast cancer early enough before it spreads.
  • Mammography in women 40 to 49 has been shown to save lives by only 15%; therefore, researchers have opposing views as to the benefits of a regular mammogram for this age group.
  • Thee evidence for women in the age group of 50 to 69 shows a 10 to 23 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer so it recommended that these women should get an annual mammogram.
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) done by their health care provider during a period of every 3 years.
  • After 40, it’s recommended that women receive a CBE every year.


Breast Cancer Prevention—Three Key Changes That Might Save your Life: Vitamin D3, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and Exercise


Eating a more plant based diet is a “no brainer” when it comes to sustaining our lives, but did you know that there are essential nutrients like Vitamin D3 (darker skinned women do not get enough sunshine to naturally get Vitamin D3 from the sun) and omega 3 fatty acids that are also critical to your overall health? And moreover, did you also know that exercise—Yes, even walking—just might save your life and prevent you from developing breast cancer?


 Vitamin D3 is A Power House for Wellness


Vitamin D3 Deficiency

Vitamin D3 deficiency has been linked to many health issues ranging from mere bone fractures to heart attacks, so it’s not surprising that cancer— including breast cancer—would also be among the list.


Vitamin D3 Research

Research at UC Sandiago has shown that patients with higher levels of Vitamin D in their blood had a higher survival rate when diagnosed with breast cancer.

Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine decided to perform the study on the correlations between breast cancer and Vitamin D3 survival rates after he discovered that women with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had a much greater risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.  The study concluded that women with lower levels of Vitamin D3 in their blood stream were more likely to develop breast cancer.


How to get more Vitamin D3:

You should see your physician as soon as possible and ask to have a 25(OH) D blood test done to determine your blood level.   Ideally, if you are cancer free, you should aim to have about 50ml of Vitamin D3 in your blood as stated in the chart below.

However, if you are below 50 ng/ml, then you will need to take a good, quality Vitamin D3 vitamin to get you on the right track to increase your vitamin D levels.

Fortunately, Vitamin D3 comes in a variety of forms, i.e. there are gel caps, sprays, and drops so pick the supplement that’s easiest for you to consistently take. I highly recommend the sprayable form because it’s quick and easy to administer.

Below are three charts (based on a 150 lb weight), courtesy of the Vitamin D Council, to guide you on the amount of supplementation you’ll need based on your lab results.


If your levels are 10 ng/ml and below, you’ll need to do the following:

To achieve this level… Take this much supplement per day…
20 ng/ml 1000 IU
30 ng/ml 2200 IU
40 ng/ml 3600 IU
50 ng/ml 5300 IU
60 ng/ml 7400 IU
70 ng/ml 10100 IU


If your levels are between 20 ng/ml and 30 ng/ml, you’ll need to do the following action:

To achieve this level… Take this much supplement per day…
30 ng/ml 600 IU
40 ng/ml 2000 IU
50 ng/ml 3700 IU
60 ng/ml 5800 IU
70 ng/ml 8600 IU


Omega 3 Fatty Acids are Essential for Good Health


Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Researchers at the Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Gyeonggi, South Korea, examined the dietary consumption of omega 3 fatty acid rich fish of 358 Korean women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and a control group of 360 Korean women with no known history of breast cancer, and what they found was extremely promising.  Women who had higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their diet were less likely to develop breast cancer.  Therefore, increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids will possibly lower your risks of developing breast cancer.


Getting More Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet:

You can eat more wild Alaskan salmon to increase your daily consumption of omega 3 fatty acids.  Wild Alaskan salmon has very low mercury levels and is therefore, safer to consume.   Or, you could also supplement with a high quality fish oil or cod liver oil.  But if you supplement with cod liver oil, just be mindful that it contains vitamin D3 so you will have to adjust your vitamin D3 supplemental intake to ensure that you are not getting too much.


Exercise Strengthens the Immune System



The beauty of exercise is that it doesn’t have to cost anything—it’s free.  And according to the National Cancer Institute, women who exercise four or more hours a week, are less likely to develop breast cancer, which is a very simply strategy to incorporate into your daily lives.  Walking 30 minutes a day—six days a week can save your life.


These are three small, simple strategies that might prove to have a profound impact on the longevity of women.  So this October, I urge every woman to not only adorn yourselves in the sisterhood of pink during this change of seasons and become not only mindful of the statistic that 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosis with breast cancer, but to also become stronger in the pink ribbon sisterhood that’s now symbolic of the beauty, femininity, nurturing spirit, and most important of all —the hope that this awareness gives each of us to prevent breast cancer from entering our lives!
















Milk Does the Body Good! Only if it’sTruly Organic

I’m a big advocate of buying organic and/or natural products whenever possible. One of my must-haves in the organic food category is milk.  The thought of giving my family milk that comes from conventional farming (where horror stories abound) makes me sad for the cow and concerned about the quality of the milk.  Is the milk nutritional?  Is it  harmful to my family, etc…


While I won’t belabor the unspeakable suffering that conventional cows must endure to put milk on our tables, I will provide a link from the Humane Society that speaks to why we should re-think purchasing dairy sourced from these cows.  After all, cows deserve compassion too.  Right?


However, I do realize that there are people out there who don’t make their milk purchasing decisions based on the welfare of the cow. So, I say to you perhaps you’d consider changing your dairy purchasing habits based on the following: The welfare or health risks that the suffering cow’s milk might have on your family.


Of course, this  brings me back to my previous two questions:  Is the milk nutritional? Is it harmful?  I will respectively answer no and yes- and here is why:


Conventional Milk is Less Nutritional Because:


  • The cows are fed an unnatural diet of pesticide and genetically modified organism (GMO) grains and meat-including cow meat
  • The cows are sicker because they are never allowed to move and graze (I can’t image being caged in and never being able to move while something is continuously suckling me while I’m sick and in pain). Wow!
  • The cows are given Bovine Growth Hormones (BGH) and antibiotics
  • The milk from these cows can contain up to 750 million dead pus cells per liter


The Harmful Effects of Conventional Milk on Humans


  • We consume more GMOs, which are very dangerous to your health according to Dr. Oz  (warning, the video might be graphic)
  • We consume milk that contains 30 to 50 % more saturated fats because the cows do not graze on nutrient rich grass
  • We are more susceptible to antibiotic resistant diseases like MRSA
  • We greatly increase our chances of hormone related cancers in the breast and testes


Benefits of  Organically Grown Milk: Especially When the Cows are Grass-Fed


  • We are not exposed to questionable GMOs
  • We receive higher amounts of  CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is excellent for overall health, according to Dr. Mercola
  • We recieve higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which greatly benefit our hearts and reduce the risk of having any kind of heart attack (including a sudden heart attack), according to a scientific study done by The American Heart Association
  • We receive higher amounts of oleic acid, which helps to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol levels)
  • We increase our overal antioxidant levels
  • We receive less saturated fat
  • We gain a stronger immune system


Now for me, these main key points make my decision for purchasing organic milk a “no brainer.” I do it in hopes that my purchasing dollar will send the message that these harmful and cruel industrial-scale factory-farming practices should end, and I do it to improve my family’s health. However, I must admit that not all organic milk is created equally.  So, if you decide that you want to start giving your family organic milk, I provided a quick guide to help you make the right choice for your family and your finances.


The Cornucopia Institute has put together the Organic Dairy Report/Ratings  that rates the quality of different organic milk  brands.  The healthiest and most nutritional milk has a 5 cow star rating (too cute!) and the least healthy/nutritional milk has a 1 or 0 cow rating.


The chart is pretty straight forward and gives you what you need to make the right decision for you and your family.  



Harvard Gazette

The Cornucopia Institute

The Humane Society

Food Matters TV

Worlds healthiest Food

Union of Concerned Scientist

Dr. Mercola


Underwire Bras and Cancer: Myth or Fact?

I have been sitting still these past few weeks due to a recent medical scare that I felt should be shared.  Whew!  I’m exhaling right now because I was given a clean bill of breast health this month-I am Christian so I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank Him for a clean mammogram.


A while ago, I did a self-breast exam and discovered a lump underneath my breast (bare with me-I am “old school” so putting this kind of information out there is very new and admittedly uncomfortable for me) but again, I feel that this is something that should be shared.


As I was dozing off to sleep, I remembered to do my routine self-breast exam.  However, this night was different.  As I felt underneath my breasts, I discovered a huge lump,  and needless to say, I gasped and bolted straight up in my bed.  Blood rushed to my head, and I broke out into a light sweat and began to feel nauseous. My body was truly in a fight or flight stage, only I had no where to run and nothing to physically fight so I tried to calm myself down.  I took another deep breath (I knew what I had previously felt) and  made myself feel in that area again and it was undeniably a HUGE lump that expanded under my entire left breast and halfway under my right breast.  It was in the shape of my underwire bra. I got up and went into the bathroom to do the exam standing.  I could visibly see the lump in the mirror, which truly traumatized me.  I then took  a deep breath and went to my computer (yes, I google everything-probably to the annoyance of my doctors ) to see what was going on.


I typed in lumps under breast and underwire bras, and BINGO!  There were a few articles talking about the dangers of underwire bras-to my disbelief.  Like most women, I have been wearing them for years simply because that’s generally all that’s offered.


Ladies I have news for you!  Well, let’s just say that if you too are wearing them, this post will serve as a wake-up call to please do your own investigation as to whether or not you feel that underwire bras are safe for you.  Just because they’ve been on the market for decades doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t scrutinize their safety.


The History of Underwire Bras


In 1893, a New Yorker named Marie Tucek was granted a patent for a “breast supporter” (AKA underwire bra) to replace the corset.  The bra consisted of a metal plate and other hard materials to give the breasts support.  Unfortunately, Marie was not very successful with marketing her invention so the bra never really gained popularity.


Years later, in the 193os and 1940s, many other patents were filed for different variations of the underwire bra.  However, the bras did not fully gain popularity until Howard Hughes (a film producer and aerospace engineer) had the first seamless push-up underwire bra designed for one of Hollywood’s leading actress, Jane Russell.   Upon filming the movie, “Outlaw,”  he noticed an imperfection with the outline of  her breast and felt that seams were unsightly and that breasts should be lifted and separated.  Well the advertisement surrounding his risque bra design was a huge success.  The underwire bra got the marketing lift it needed and so did Jane Russell-she instantly became America’s first sex symbol.  And like everything else that is touted in Hollywood, women everywhere had to own an underwire bra.





Underwire Bras Might be Increasing More than Your Breast Size


Underwire bras are the best selling bras in the world because they shape your breasts by lifting them and separating them.  But it appears that they might be increasing more than the size of your breast.  Could underwire bras be contributing to an increased risk of cancer or other benign breast conditions like inflammation and swelling or fibrocystic breasts?


Underwire Bras can be a “Drain” on your Lymphatic System


Some research suggests that underwire bras can possibly be linked to the development of breast cancer.  A husband and wife medical anthropologist team, Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, claim in their book, “Dressed To Kill: The Link between Breast Cancer and Bras” that underwire bras impede lymphatic drainage, which could ultimately lead to breast cancer. 


Singer and Grismaijer’s study of over 4000 women showed that women who wear bras are more likely to develop fibrocystic breast disease and/or breast cancer.  Furthermore they found that simply eliminating bras from the wardrobe could greatly decrease or eliminate fibrocystic breast disease.  Singer and grismaijer are not the only researchers who have been interested in the link between bras and breast health.  Here is a link that provides historical research on bras and the impact they’ve had on breast health, and here is a link to GLOBOCAN’s (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) data that shows that women in less developed countries like middle Africa had the least incidence of breast cancer possibly resulting from their braless culture. 


So let’s delve deeper into the lymphatic system to further understand why it’s important for breast health.



The Lymphatic System Works Tirelessly to Defend Our Bodies


The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network that is a part of the circulatory system. However, I must first briefly discuss blood flow to give you the full picture of how the lymphatic system works.


Blood Capillaries


Blood flows throughout the body in a continuous loop through blood vessels called capillaries.  The capillaries delivers oxygen and nutrients that are found in the blood into our cells.  The cells use the nutrients and in the process waste is created.  The waste is then moved into the lymphatic system for removal.


Lymph Capillaries


The lymph flows within its own system of lymph capillaries and vessels in one direction, which is upward toward the neck.  The lymph capillaries collect excess fluid and waste that has be leaked from cells and blood capillaries.  The excess waste and fluid is referred to as lymph.  The lymph is deposited into the lymph nodes where filtering takes place and  harmful organisms are trapped and destroyed with lymphocites (white blood cells) that are present in the lymph nodes.  Lastly, the lymph and the lymphocites will then travel and be deposited back into the blood stream.


If the lymph does not flow properly due to restrictions that are possibly caused by a tightly fitting bra, breast health could become compromised in the following ways.

  • Fluid can build up and lead to swelling and or lumps in the breast; and
  • Toxic waste can accumulate within the lymphatic vessels and cause cells to become abnormal and ultimately lead to breast cancer


The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.


So as it pertains to underwire bras possibly contributing to cancer or other benign breast conditions, it is reasonable to conclude that the possibility does exist.  As long as this drainage system is allowed to flow properly, the lymph flows freely and performs its duty.  However, if something such as a tightly fitting underwire bra obstructs the natural flow process, it’s logical to conclude that problems can occur within the breast tissue.


Hmmm….hopefully, you can see just how important the lymphatic system is to your breast health and ultimately, your overall health.


P.S. During my mammogram, I was told not to wear underwire bras because they were not safe.



What you can do to Maintain a Healthy Lymphatic Flow




  • Replace your underwire bras with less restrictive wireless bras
  • Wear your underwire bra only on special occasions
  •  Get properly measured for a bra so that it fits perfectly
  • Do a bi-monthly breast massage to increase lymphatic drainage




Dairy Consumption is a Trigger for Severe Allergy Symptoms

It’s springtime again and unfortunately, many allergy sufferers are beginning to feel the affect of the warm weather.  Mother Nature’s blossoming flowers, trees, and shrubs are releasing allergens such as pollen and ragweed into the air, which causes a chain reaction of  sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and nose blowing misery for 50 million people in America.   And what’s even worse, these beautiful, blossoming frenemies have catapulted allergies to the 5th spot among chronic diseases.


Now granted, this data does sound alarming, but as with all statistics, there are always variables that can skew the numbers so to speak.  So what do these numbers really mean? Ok- there are many people who really do suffer miserably with allergies, but the good news is that many of them are only slightly allergic to common allergens such as pollen and ragweed.  Furthermore, the severe symptoms that they experience are possibly caused by certain triggers such as dairy.  So, if they avoid dairy during allergy season, their allergy symptoms might be mild or even better, might just simply go away. Now that’s data that can make everyone, especially allergy sufferers, breath more easily.



Milk does the Body Good- Well not Always!


CUSH No Dairy

Research has shown that dairy can actually trigger many of the allergic symptoms that people experience during the spring. Sorry dairy lovers, but you just might have to give up dairy based milk and cookies, milk shakes, and even cheese until the allergens die down in the air. 


It turns out that many seasonal allergy sufferers just might be harboring an undiagnosed sensitivity to dairy. If the body has a sensitivity to dairy, it will be in a heightened attack mode after you have consumed it. Simultaneously, if seasonal allergens are introduced during this time, your body will overreact because it is already on high alert.


Conversely, if you don’t consume dairy during allergy season, your body will not be on high alert. Therefore, when allergens like ragweed and pollen are introduced, your body will see them as a minor problem and respond mildly to them-if it responds at all.


The Milk Experiment


When I first told my husband Joe this (he used to suffer horribly from allergies), he rolled his eyes and refused to entertain the concept of removing dairy from his diet.  After all, I had just started studying nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition so his scientific brain dismissed the message as silliness.  I’m sure he was asking himself what could  she possibly know as a new student?


So, I had to speak to him on his level and I asked him to conduct his own scientific experiment.    I told him to just try it for one week, which was huge because he loves milk and did not want to part with it.  But alas, he acquiesced and the rest is history, as they say.


Joe was totally blown away with the results.  His allergy symptoms of severe head aches (so severe he would often be bed ridden) simply went away.  And so did all of the constant nose blowing and watery eyes that annoyed the both of us to no end.


That was 6 years ago and he remains pretty much allergy free when he doesn’t consume dairy during the allergy season.  In addition (and perhaps most importantly), he trusts homeopathic medicine and often asks me for natural remedies to cure whatever ails him.  I guess you can say that this little experiment turned out to be a win-win for both of us:  The money we saved on medicine during allergy season-$100.00.  Getting my husband to embrace homeopathic remedies-now that was priceless!