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

 

Exercise

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Thermography: Is it the Safest Screening Method for Breast Cancer?

Possibly one of the oldest forms of human cancers, breast cancer dates back to Egypt in 1600 BC.  During that time, breast cancer was untreatable and  cauterization was the only treatment performed to remove the diseased tissue.  This “treatment” went on for centuries until the 17th century, when doctors began to understand the circulatory system. They made a connection between breast cancer and lymph nodes in the arm pits, and for the first time, a more “humane” approach to treating breast cancer was born.

 

Jean Louis Petit Makes Medical History

Jean Luis Petit was the first surgeon to perform a mastectomy, which then became the only treatment provided to women who had breast cancer.  The radical mastectomy was revolutionized in America through the work of William Stewart Halstead, when he  performed the first mastectomy on American soil.  Again, this treatment remained the only conventional treatment of breast cancer until the 1970s when doctors began to understand metastases better and perceived cancer as both, systematic and localized. Armed with a clearer understanding of breast cancer and how it metastacized, American doctors began to discover better treatment options for treating women with breast cancer.  And more importantly,  life saving cancer screening devices were making their way in hospitals across America.

 

Introducing Breast Thermagraphy and Mammograms

In 1982, breast thermography was approved by the FDA for the adjunctive screening of breast cancer. Four years later, on July 8, 1986, Patrick Panetta and Jack Wennet received their patent for the first Universal Mammography Comprehension System, aka, mammograms.  Almost everyone knows what a mammogram is; yet, breast thermagraphy remains relatively unknown to most women.

 

So Why Haven’t You Heard of Breast Thermagraphy?

Doctors highly preferred the mammogram when screening for breast cancer primarily because when young women were given mammograms, they were less likely to get false postive results.  On the other hand, there were a very high amount of young women being diagnosed as false positive with breast thermography.  Needless to say, the large amount of false positives caused a major concern in the medical community.  As a result, mammograms became the most trusted method for detecting breast cancer within the conventional medical community.   But is it really more reliable than breast thermography? Let’s take a closer look at both exams.

 

The Mammogram

The life time risk for developing breast cancer 50 years ago was one in 20, and today it is one in eight. As a result of this huge increase in breast cancer diagnosis, most women today intimately know the many “ins and outs” of mammograms. They are recommended for women age 40 and above, and require her to place each nude breast, one at a time, between the two plates on the mammogram machine.

 

This procedure is often very uncomfortable to women. An ionizing high dose (1000 times higher than a chest x-ray) of radiation is administered. The radiologist gets an an x-ray image of the examined breast from above and from the side. The results are recorded on a computer or on x-ray film and are reviewed by the radiologist. After the exam is complete, the doctor will convey the results to the patient. Unfortunately, the results are not always accurate. Now the question becomes, are mammograms really saving the lives of women through early detection?

 

Research suggests that mortality from breast cancer has gone relatively unchanged for the last 40 years. Moreover, when women conducted self breast exams only (not combining it with mammograms), their rate of detecting a tumor was equal to the mammogram’s rate of accurate detection. In other words, just performing a self breast exam is as equally effective as having a mammogram in regards to detecting breast cancer early and saving your life. Research shows that if you screen 10,000 women age 50-70 with a mammogram, at best, only 26 of them will be saved. On the other hand, breast thermography boasts a rate of 87-96% accuracy. What is breast thermography and why is it so effective?

 

Breast Thermography

Breast Thermography is a clinical exam that uses infrared heat that emanates from the patient’s body. She is placed in a temperature controlled room (66°F to 70°F), and the thermographer blows cool air over her breasts. This cool air regulates the patient’s temperature so that she is at equilibrium with the room temperature. However, the pool of blood and blood vessels that the cancer cells create is not under autonomic control and is not affected by the cool air. This results in a hot spot because the pool of blood will clearly stand out. Once the patient’s body is cooled, usually 10-15 minutes, she will be asked to hold her arms up so that images can be captured. These images will include both breasts from the fronts, the sides, underneath, and from a 45 degree angle. After the procedure is complete, the patient will be asked to hold a cold gel pack for one minute, which produces a neuralgic response in the breast and cools them. This cooling only affects healthy breasts, but not cancer. If there is cancer, it will remain hot. A second set of images are taken of the breasts. In some offices the patient will get her results on the spot; while in other offices, she will leave and receive her results later. Unlike mammography, this procedure comes close to a 100% accuracy rate for early detection.

 

A breast thermography boasts an early cancer detection rate of 87-96%. It is non-invasive and does not expose women to additional radiation, which can actually cause cancer. Needless to say, this is why naturopathic doctors highly recommend it as a replacement to mammograms. According to Dr. Shawn Sieracki, a Traditional naturopath located in Lewisville, Texas, comparing breast thermography to mammography is like comparing apples to oranges. Dr. Sieracki says that mammograms find the tumor that is already present in the body, while on the other hand, breast thermography is based on physiology and will detect abnormal patterns in the breast tissue up to five year before it becomes a malignant tumor.

 

As noted above, breast thermagraphy was dismissed as ineffective because of the high rates of “false positives;” however, 5 to 10 years later, those young women who were diagnosed as false positives actually did develop breast cancer. Therefore, they were not “false positive”-they were in their very early stages of developing breast cancer and could have possibly reversed the condition before it developed into cancer. Conversely, the mammogram could not detect the developing tumor at such an early stage so those women who had a mammogram and were told that they had healthy breast, were actually in the early stages of developing breast cancer.

 

This is great news for women, especially those who have been shown to carry the BRCA1 gene. Doctors generally recommend a mastectomy for BRCA1 gene carriers. Now these women can partner with their naturopathic doctor to get frequent breast thermography exams done and immediately detect any physiological changes that might be taking place. Conversely, a frequently conducted mammogram screening might actually cause cancer due to the high level of radiation exposure.

 

So What’s the Right Answer?

Like everything else, deciding which option to use for your next annual breast exam is a personal choice. Women can continue to do self breast exams solely or in conjunction with a mammogram, but perhaps it’s best to use all three until you definitely know which exam is best for your particular situation. Consult with your physician to schedule a mammogram and to find a practitioner who specializes in breast thermography, you can visit www.breastthermography.com