- Pick one day of the week where you commit to eating vegetarian the whole day and don’t let anything or anyone break that commitment or,
- Pick one meal out of the day that you’ll commit to eating vegetarian
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?
The Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Screening for Breast Cancer
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 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
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.
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!
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 Harmful Effects of Conventional Milk on Humans
Benefits of Organically Grown Milk: Especially When the Cows are Grass-Fed
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.
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 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.
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.
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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