Bella Natural Health-Wellness and Breast Health
by Dr. Dawna Jones
Our health is at the core of being. The body has a rhythm and enjoys the ability to adjust and re-balance to keep us happy, alive, sane and in the best of health. An unhealthy body is simply a warning sign that we are not utilizing the simple tools needed for the maintenance of good health. Common examples of this are lack of sleep, fatigue, and inability to cope with stress. Some of these symptoms are a result of too much alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, tobacco, working too hard, bypassing exercise, or downtime, which are all fixable and changeable products of our environment.
Protecting breast health is our focus today, but just as the mind and body cannot really be treated as separate entities, neither can our general health and well being be separate from breast health.
Steps for maintaining breast health:
There are factors that are not within our control. Genetic predisposition to cancer or the health of your siblings is not under your control. Yet, a genetic predisposing can be positively influenced by what is under our control. That is our focus today.
Prescription for breast health:
1. Keep a positive mental outlook. Believe you are well and will continue to be well. Sit and visualize your self as well, happy, calm and whole each day – What does that look like to you? It has been scientifically proven that the cells in your body respond positively to this technique. It raises your vibration in a body that is made of energy and influences your immune system to stimulate your good health.
2. Exercise and maintain a normal body weight. Obesity increases cancer risk. With an increase in fat in the body there are more stressors on the heart, more production of hormones, (not always a good thing), and more storage space for toxins, byproducts of pesticides, herbicides, added hormones from food, plastics and their by products all of which can effect the DNA, damage the structure of the cell or impair repair of the cell. The breast contains a large amount of fat.
3. Eat right. The body requires certain nutrients for repair and maintenance of the cell structure. Some nutrients cannot be made in the body (essential fatty acids, trace minerals, vitamins), we get these elements from our food intake. If we eat foods stripped of nutrients, over processed, over cooked, grown with pesticides and with added hormones and vitamins “for your health” we have missed the boat on the real stuff. Whole grains, cooked and raw vegetables, seeds, seasonal fresh fruit, seaweeds, yogurt and cheeses will influence our body to remain in a more alkaline state (higher pH) which does not allow for growth of cancerous cells. Food does not have to be fancy, exotic or sugary. Simple is good.
4. Vitamins. A well balanced diet will provide optimal nutrition for health. The reality is that sometimes we can’t get the food from the backyard, or we are eating foods that have been prepared for us, purchased at the store or in a restaurant. Our best efforts are still leaving us depleted. It may be necessary to supplement the diet. A daily multivitamin isn’t a cure, and is usually not a good substitute for the nutrients that you are missing. Whole food supplements are available that are nutrient dense and contain the enzymes necessary to help you utilize the vitamins and minerals they contain. Good examples are:
- Barley grass
- Wheat germ
- Wheat grass
- Bee Propolis (Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly)
- Seaweeds (vegetables, chlorella, spirulina, blue green algae, kelp)
5. Minimize exposure to toxins, radiation and electromagnetic fields.
The cells in our bodies are all miniature factories for cell repair, energy and hormone production. They produce waste products, some of which known as free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired oxygen ions. In pairs, like in H2O-water they are rendered harmless. Unpaired, they can damage the cell and it’s DNA. A cell that cannot repair itself may die, or in the case of DNA damage may change or mutate and lose its ability to work in unison with other cells. A rogue cell that is growing faster that all the others unchecked is the definition of a cancer. The body is continuously clearing free radicals from the body. With the help of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals they pair with the free radicals to disable them, and our health is restored.
Examples of everyday exposures leading to free radical production:
- Electromagnetic fields: Microwaves, TV sets, computers, cell phones, bedside alarm clocks, tension wires, household wiring.
- Radiation: Flying in a plane, X rays, mammograms.
- Petrochemicals: Byproducts of plastics and some commercial pesticides and herbicides.
- Commercial cigarettes: The chemicals that are sprayed on the tobacco as it is being produced stick to the tobacco leaf and are included in the cigarette smoke that is in inhaled. It increases the radon exposure and cancer risk, significantly.
- Fried chicken: Or anything else fried.
- Mammograms. Mammograms do increase the exposure to radiation and possible damage to the DNA. It is currently our main diagnostic tool in medicine; although imperfect, it is important to have some tool for surveillance of the breast. The premenopausal breast appears to be more sensitive to the radiation exposure. In an individual with a family history, it may be advantageous to inquire about other possible methods of diagnosis like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to minimize radiation to the breast. As mammograms will continue to be used, follow our suggestions for decreasing risks.
- Insist on digital resolution mammography to minimize, exposure to radiation. The images are enhanced digitally by a computer. This may mean fewer films.
- Load yourself up with carotenes and cruciferous vegetables for a week prior to your mammogram to protect against damage to the DNA.
- Don’t go if your breasts are tender. Your hormonal level is high if this is happening, usually due to extra estrogen. Schedule your mammogram 7-10 days after menses.
- Remove radiation isotopes after your mammogram with burdock root, seaweed (which neutralizes radiation damage), and miso.
6. Self exam
Women who examine their breasts on a regular basis are much more likely to detect subtle changes in the breast tissue which can lead to early diagnosis. You have an innate intuition about what this happening to your breast. Be still and listen.
So can cancer be prevented?
We have discussed several factors that influence out health positively and negatively. Our discussion will now turn to specific strategies to promote your breast health.
Foods that prevent cancer:
- Selenium a mineral is an important building block for the production of glutathione which increases immunity and the inhibition of cancer causing cells. Good sources include organic garlic, onions, mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
- The Cabbage Family: (Indole-3-carbinol). Broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, bok choy, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, horseradish, turnips, radishes, and mustard greens contain anti cancer compounds which negate cancer promoting activity in the body due to a number of constituents. They may be ingested raw or cooked.
- Beta Carotenes: Contained in orange and yellow vegetables and dark leafy greens.
- Vitamin C: Contained in fresh raw fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin E: Found abundantly in sunflower seeds, olive oil, flax seed oil, fresh pressed oil and fresh ground wheat.
- Vitamin D: An antioxidant that inhibits the initiation phase of breast cancer, Vitamin D is obtained by exposure to sunlight 10 minutes per day and with the consumption of sardines and tuna.
- Seaweeds: Seaweeds in the daily diet protects that thyroid, strengthens the immune system and prevents the initiation of cancer. Laboratory rats that were exposed to seaweed before being exposed to cancer causing chemicals had 30% less breast cancer. Specific seaweeds like Alginic acid absorb heavy metals, radioactive isotopes and some chemicals, aiding in their elimination from the body. Examples of seaweeds you may find at the store include awake, kelp and Kombu.
- Herbs that promote immunity and strengthen the immune system are readily available to you at the health food store. The immune system is composed of many components. White blood cells, (T killer cells, B cells, T cells) destroy cancer cells and viruses and are produced in the thymus gland and the bone marrow. Macrophages (Pac Man) live in the lymph nodes, liver and spleen and eat cellular debris, thus strengthening the immune system. Interferon, a protein, binds to cell surfaces and inhibits the creation of viral inhibitory proteins. Common herbs will promote these activities and are found in your local health food store. Examples include: Astragalus, Echinacea, Siberian ginseng, ginseng, reishi, wild mushrooms, licorice, and goldenseal.
- Essential fatty acids inhibit prostaglandins that promote tumor growth. Good sources include flax seeds, walnuts, wild fish from cold waters, borage oil and seeds, evening primrose oil and hemp. Farmed fish do not contain these EFAs.
- Isoflavones are found in soy. And inhibit the replication of oncogenes and have been clinically shown to convert cancer cells to normal cells. They aid in the reduction of reproductive cancers in women and in men. Women with high levels of isoflavone in their diet and high levels of excretion have the lowest breast cancer rates. Look for none genetically modified soy and consume these products in their whole form, not in a pill. Lifestyle solutions are easy to implement and can make a significant difference in your life in a short amount of time.
- Consider sleeping in complete darkness or by the moonlight. Melatonin is produced at night by the pineal gland in the brain and is reduced in its production by exposure to light at night. Constant exposure to light at night even from a street light or a night light inhibits the production. The cancer risk goes up because melatonin is a potent cancer inhibitor in the breast. This can be countered by sleeping in a totally darkened room, by working under full spectrum lighting, or by getting direct sun on closed eyes for 5-15 minutes per day.
- Take off your bra. In a study of 5000 women, those who reported red markers and irritation from wearing a bra were twice as likely to develop breast cancer that those who did not. Women who wore their bras for greater than 12 hours per day increased their risk by a factor of 6. Those who went braless decreased their risk by a factor of 20. The elastic of the bra encircling the chest effectively hinders the immune response, slows lymph circulation.
- Stop drinking bottled water (in plastic) and stop microwaving your food (in plastic). The plastic leaches into your food and sits in the fatty tissue in the breast. Where it acts as an estrogen imposter and is a precursor to DNA damage.
- Strive for hormone balance. Eating the right foods and paying attention to signs of hormone imbalance including central weight gain, fatigue, enlargement of the breasts, severe water retention. All are correctable. Find a practitioner who is familiar with natural therapies for hormonal balance.
Be well and enjoy your new prescription for good health!
Dawna L. Jones, MD FACOG is the Medical Director of Bella Natural Health Inc., a practice dedicated to natural therapies for women. She is board certified in OB/GYN and is a diplomate with the American Board of Intergrative Holistic Medicine, practicing on the South Shore since 1988. Appointments are available by calling 781-829-0930 or visiting the website at bellanaturalhealth.com