Every October, the U.S. is bombarded with pink ribbons and reminders to “get the girls checked”. But the irony is that many of the companies waving the pink flags are actually contributing to increased cancer risks and cancer rates because of the products they sell. So, let’s take a hard look at breast cancer and some of the issues around this whole problem.
In the USA, breast cancer accounts for 30% of all cancers in women and is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths. The United States and the United Kingdom have the highest incidence rates globally, primarily due to excessive exposure to toxic chemicals and improper health habits. Because of this, regular screening is highly recommended. But even annual mammograms can contribute to the possibility of developing breast cancer. Mammograms have also been linked to the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of breast cancer, meaning that many women receive a diagnosis and / or treatment without conclusive evidence of breast tumors. Crazy, right?
And think about this, the experts have been searching for the cure to end cancer for decades. But despite the thousands of marathons, bake sales, national fundraisers and millions of dollars raised, we are no closer to a cure. In fact, the stats reflect that the oncology market was valued at $203 billion in 2022 and is rising every year. Cancer is literally a billion dollar industry, making a lot of people very wealthy. And unfortunately, those who actually suffer from this disease are still fighting for their lives.
As if this weren’t enough to make you start questioning things, consider that Breast Cancer Awareness Month began as a partnership between the government and AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company. (see link below) AstraZeneca is the baby of Imperial Chemical Industries based in Britain. Imperial Chemical Industries produced many of the carcinogenic chemicals that are used in hundreds of everyday items. Imperial Chemical Industries also developed Tamoxifen, which is specifically used to treat breast cancer. And according the World Health Organization (WHO), Tamoxifen is a human carcinogen itself. Can you say, “conflict of interest, red flag”?
According to most physicians, the cause of breast cancer is still unknown. However, there are some risk factors that can make a woman more susceptible. This includes poor lifestyle choices, early menarche, late menopause, never being pregnant or getting pregnant later in life, obesity, birth control and hormone replacement therapy drugs and a family history. Obviously, some of these factors are not within our control. But even things like when women start having periods can be affected by the dietary and lifestyle choices made when going through adolescence.
Here are some things every woman can do to help prevent breast cancer:
1. Limit / Avoid Alcohol – Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer. Women who drink 2-4 bottles of beer, 2-5 glasses of wine or 2-4 shots of liquor per day, increase the incidence of breast cancer by 41%.
2. Lose the Weight – Obesity is linked to increased cancer rates among women who become overweight as adults and especially after menopause. There are several reasons for this one. After menopause, fat tissue is the main source of estrogen. If you have more fat, the estrogen levels can rise, which is linked to breast cancer. Also, women who are overweight, often have higher levels of insulin, another hormone linked to cancer.
3. Avoid Excessive Radiation Exposure – Research suggests that the cumulative amount of time spent exposed to radiation over your lifetime may be linked to breast cancer risk. This means that things like x-rays and mammograms need to be used sparingly because these medical imaging tests use high doses of radiation.
4. Stop Smoking – Is it really a shock, in this day and age, that smoking is a bad idea? Quitting smoking is beneficial in treating any medical condition. But in particular, smoking has been linked to higher risks of breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.
5. Move – Regular exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity level can lower breast cancer rates. Moderate exercise is anything that makes you breathe as quickly or as hard as you do during a brisk walk. Exercising throughout the week is also more beneficial than just one intense exercise session. Another great way to incorporate movement is through daily tai chi or qigong. Both are simple forms of movement that require no equipment and are easy to learn.
6. Eat A Healthy Diet – Evidence suggests that certain nutritional guidelines can decrease your risk of getting cancer. The Mediterranean diet is the best choice. This diet is comprised of lots of whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and fish. Dairy and other meats, as well as most inflammatory seed oils are either completely avoided or very limited.
7. Weigh the Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy – Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be beneficial for women, especially during menopause. However, this treatment must be monitored closely and limited whenever possible due to its link to increased breast cancer rates. This also applies to the use of hormonal birth control. Keep this in mind when talking with your doctor. Or better yet, find a functional medicine practitioner or herbalist who specializes in hormone therapy.
The recommended testing standard is the mammogram. A mammogram utilizes gamma radiation, a known carcinogen, to light up calcium deposits in the breast tissue. This may or may not be a cancerous tumor. It may also be benign and in the case of an x-ray (mammogram), it doesn’t discern the different types of tissue and this frequently leads to misdiagnosis and mistreatment.
A better testing method is thermography. Thermography uses an infrared camera to detect heat emissions from the targeted body region, which can be used to diagnose breast cancer. This method shows higher accuracy and is a more cost effective form of diagnosis. Plus, because thermography has higher accuracy rates, it is less likely for someone to be misdiagnosed and possibly receive treatments they didn’t actually need.
East Asian Medicine (EAM) also has a lot to offer when it comes to either preventing or fighting cancer. EAM and acupuncture have been found to be somewhat lethal to breast cancer cells. This medical system can also reduce breast pain and nodules and ameliorate the side effects that may occur from other treatment modalities.
Most breast cancer cells are estrogen or progesterone dependent and researchers have demonstrated that EAM herbal remedies can reduce tumor growth and induce cell death in both estrogen and non-estrogen dependent breast cancer cells with no toxicity. The combination EAM and acupuncture has also been found to reduce the pain and size of breast lumps in patients with benign breast lesions. . Acupuncture stimulates the nervous and immune systems to release natural painkillers and infection fighters. This helps the body to heal and may prevent the need for surgery or pharmaceuticals.
For those who are already suffering from breast cancer, EAM can indeed help. If surgery has been performed to remove the tumor(s), acupuncture along the scar lines can stimulate blood flow, relieve pain and increase mobility that may have otherwise been impeded due to skin tightness. Acupuncture treatments can increase collagen in the skin and this helps relieve added tension along the scar lines. This can also allow for cancer patients to undergo more aggressive physical therapy that will help them heal faster and return to a normal life.
Most cancer patients who opt for chemotherapy and radiation also become severely immunocompromised, making it harder for them to recover and more susceptible to other infections. Utilizing acupuncture during and after cancer treatments can be very beneficial and stimulate the body’s immune system. Also receiving acupuncture treatments as preventive care can help keep the body free from disease to begin with. And once the cancer is in remission, continuing with regular acupuncture treatments will increase the immune system’s ability to remain strong.
Breast cancer is no laughing matter and it can be a death sentence. But it doesn’t have to be. As you can see, there are options. You can choose every single day whether to feed or starve disease using the aforementioned suggestions. And you can also choose a safer detection method, by opting for thermography over mammograms. To quote G.I. Joe, “knowing is half the battle”. Now that you know more, you can do more and hopefully never have to be confronted with a breast cancer diagnosis.