A breast cancer diagnosis can be enough to uproot your entire life, requiring you to change your regular routine to combat the condition. Fortunately, as medical technology continues to improve, more and more people are able to detect on time, recover and return back to normalcy, especially if the cancer is caught relatively early. While there is no completely sure way to ever prevent cancer, it can be easy to follow a lifestyle that emphasizes breast cancer risk reduction and personal care. If you are interested in lowering your chance of developing the condition, it can be a good idea to follow some of these tips and see what works for your lifestyle.
Avoid Environmental Toxin Exposure Through Food and Water
The highest exposure to environmental toxicants is primarily through our food and water sources. Since the shift to industrial farming in the mid-1940s most birds, hogs, pigs, cows, and lamb are all fed the heavy metal arsenic (disguised by different names) so that they can grow quickly. When the animals are eating grass from the farmland, they are consuming high concentrations of the pesticide glyphosate the grass has been heavily sprayed with. Since the animals’ feed is now poisonous, the animals become ill very quickly and hence, are given low-dose antibiotics and pain medication. By this point the animal’s lifespan has been exponentially shortened while they have been able to produce fatty animal by-products. The food industry is happy since they can now produce more “juicy, fatty” animal products and keep consumers happy with high production of animal products.
With the introduction of genetically-modified (GMO) crops in the mid-1990s, the shift to producing mostly GMO wheat, corn, soy, and rice in the U.S. has taken top priority in agriculture. Animals could now be fed GMO crops, instead of only grass, allowing they to grow quickly. Since animals are designed to only eat plants and cannot safely tolerate crops and pesticides, they become sick quickly. They are then fed low dose antibiotics, arsenic, and other pharmaceuticals drugs until they are ready to be “disposed of” (~ 6 weeks for chicken, 3 years for female cows, a few weeks for male cows). Agriculture studies have consistently seen most farm animals are plagued with toxin-induced cancers, neurological disorders, and other diseases. Humans are now consuming more animal protein and GMO crops than ever before leaving them vulnerable to high environmental toxin exposure.
The other challenge is food and beverages are now often packaged in plastic leading to bleaching of gasoline additives and other industrial toxicants into food and water sources. With the Western diet now consistently of mostly refined and GMO grains, animal protein, processed food, and sugar, people are mostly consuming environmental toxins at doses 10 times the safe levels. With the shift to cooking mostly at high temperatures (i.e., roasting, frying, grilling, microwaving) versus sauteing and steaming, the chemical properties of food become carcinogenic.
The body can no longer tolerate such high exposures to toxicants leaving the liver congested and the immune system weak. Cells can no longer produce adequate energy and instead producing too many free radicals which further damage the cells. Eventually, this become the perfect formula for cancer to develop.
Avoid Radiation Exposure
Depending on the other aspects of your medical history, it can be a good idea to avoid different types of environmental and general radiation exposures. This is especially true for those who have a family history of dealing with breast cancer.
Some of the most common types of radiation to avoid include medical-imaging systems. For example, computerized tomography (CT scan) utilizes high doses of radiation. Mammogram and x-ray’s utilize low doses of radiation. One must be careful choosing these diagnostic modalities and make sure they are absolutely necessary and outweighing the risk. Cumulative exposure to radiation is a known risk factor for causing cancer. Thermography (aka., digital thermal imaging) on the other hand has no risk of radiation exposure and can detect inflammation more accurately than any other diagnostic scan.
If you have to pass through an area that is particularly polluted, consider going a different route, as well.
This one may seem obvious. Even individuals who do not smoke heavily will increase their risk of developing breast cancer tremendously, just by having as much as a cigarette or two a day. Women who are premenopausal are the most at risk as well, especially if they smoke heavily. Second-hand smoke is just as bad. And vaping is even worse. Unburden your body from all the negative air around you and your family.
Studies have consistently come out against the dangers of smoking. Over the last few years, scientists and health researchers have found innumerable ways in which your life will improve when you quit smoking. Your risk for developing other cancers, such as mouth, throat, lung, and stomach, will significantly drop once you quit smoking.
Like with drinking (see below), if you are finding it hard to quit, it is important to seek outside help to get you back in control of your health. There are numerous online resources that can provide you with the exercises and assistance you need to quit a harmful habit.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
One of the most important first steps you can take towards a healthier, cancer-free lifestyle is to stop consuming alcohol on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Research shows that individuals who have regular alcohol drinking habits have a higher risk of contracting breast cancer since alcohol damages the liver and its ability to properly metabolize sex hormones associated with causing breast cancer.
Individuals who drink alcohol on a weekly to biweekly basis are at the highest risk for cancer since their cells are often becoming damaged. Medical experts recommend limiting yourself to one to two drinks per month.
Maintain Your Ideal Weight
Controlling your weight can be another powerful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers found that those who are chronically overweight (BMI > 25) or have gained a great deal of weight after their mid-40s have a significant risk of developing breast cancer. Carrying excess weight is directly tied to underlying liver congestion since the liver continue to form fat from frequent eating, consuming intolerant foods/beverages, and/or eating large meals. Since the liver begins to not function properly, fat cannot be adequately metabolized and cells cannot adequately produce energy. Cells instead produce more free radicals which damage cells and increase grow of cancer cells. The chronic liver congestion causes excess production of toxic estrogen which eventually leads to estrogen-receptor positive breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
Avoid Taking Hormones
Unless it is absolutely necessary, try to avoid taking artificial hormones (i.e., birth control pills, HRT’s) since they further damage liver congestion and cause depletion of critical B vitamins. These B vitamins are antioxidants which help prevent cell damage and kill cancer cells. Use of hormones for over 3 to 5 years can exponentially increase one’s cancer risk especially when the other risk factors noted above are also of concern.
If you are specifically taking hormones for menopausal symptoms, consult with your doctor and see if there are some other options available. You may have success managing your symptoms through a variety of non-hormonal medications and therapies. If you cannot manage without them, you can still talk to your doctor and see if a lower dosage can be used to get the results you need. Like with any other such medical concerns, collaborating with your doctor can allow you to accommodate your specific situation in a way that will benefit you best.
Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Like with most other types of cancer, the best way for you to prevent a potential issue is to catch it as soon as possible. Check the breast area often to make sure that your tissues are regular and even. If you notice any irregular shapes or lumps, it is crucial for you to speak with a medical professional as soon as possible. If you notice a problem early, a thorough regimen can be established to provide you with the surest chances of recovery. The problem is by the time breast cancer is detected on a mammogram or self-breast exam, it has already begun to spread. The surest way of detecting your cancer risk is through digital thermal imaging (aka., thermography). Thermography picks up increases in cellular temperature elicited from cancer cells versus normal cells 10 years earlier than any other diagnostic scan. Learn more about thermography and its ability to prevent gross cancer development at Advanced Health.
To learn more about personalized lifestyle medicine and reducing your breast cancer risk reduction, contact us now! Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D., Advanced Health founder and senior Integrative Functional Medicine Physician is a cancer expert on how to actually prevent and reverse early stage cancer. She is ready to answer all your questions.