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Preventing Breast Cancer at Weston Price Conference

I recently spoke at the Weston Price annual conference, summarizing everything I could fit in about preventing breast cancer in a relatively brief presentation that several folks have asked me to put on the website.

I’m going to start here with the summary of preventive actions and write a separate article on the controversies and other information included in the talk. Let’s start with what you can do to prevent breast cancer.

Know your “fixed” risk factors

Some INCREASE your risk,

  • A previous history of breast cancer, or even breast biopsies
  • Breast cancer in a close relatives (mother, sister, daughter)
  • Aging – this is a good risk factor to have!
  • Uninterrupted menses. The more months of pregnancy-related amenorrhea, the lower your risk.
  • Ethnicity: Highest risks for white, lowest for native Americans and native Alasians.

Some DECREASE your risk,

  • Full term pregnancies before the age of 30
  • Breast feeding, always a good idea, and in this case as well
  • History of hypertension or pre-eclampsia in pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism appears to reduce risk

Now that you know what can’t be changed, what do you think? Are you at high risk or low risk? If you want to reduce your risk farther, consider the following two lists: somewhat and highly modifiable risk factors.

Somewhat Modifiable

  • Denser breasts have higher risk. Iodine deficiency may contribute
  • Your genetics are actually modifiable: even the famous breast cancer gene BRCA, causes three times more breast cancer now than it did 30 years ago. Live like our mothers did!
  • Minimize unnecessary radiation to your breasts. (Mammograms deliver 0.1-2.0 rads at a time; each rad increases overall risk of breast cancer by 1 percent, cumulatively, not annually
  • Minimize toxic chemical exposure, particularly:
    • Clearly identified carcinogens: benzene, fragrances, urethane (gives hair that nice “bounce”), and PFC’s in non-stick cookware and stain guard treatments. Avoid organobromines in flame retardants
    • Toxic hormone modifiers, such as rGBG in non-organic milk, BPA lining many food containers, parabens (in many cosmetics), pesticides, herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in charred or grilled meats
  • Find alternatives to hazardous medications which have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, including statins, calcium channel blockers and antibiotics.

Very Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Electromagnetic radiation:  keep your cell phone away from sensitive tissue such as brains and breasts
  • All personal care products should be organic. Avoid parabens, phthalates, triclosan (anti-bacterial soaps), 1,4-dioxane (don’t look for it on the label, it’s not required!)
  • Home care cleansers and scents should be truly natural (essential oils, lemon, vinegar) or labeled as organic
  • Verify your products through Environmental Working Group’s website or the smart phone application with the catchy title, “Think Dirty”
  • Particular caution with makeup: avoid Revlon, Estee Lauder
  • Filter chlorine out of your water
  • If you’re young enough to choose, pregnancy before 30 best protects.
  • Sleep 7-9 hours at a time in a dark  room, preferably during night time hours, to optimize melatonin levels.
  • Exercise reduces risk. Any exercise can help, but particularly high intensity intervals will help prevent cancer as well as obesity and metabolic syndrome, both of which raise your risk of breast cancer.
  • Lower your insulin levels with high intensity exercise and a low carbohydrate diet. Fasting levels below 3 are optimal.
  • If you don’t drink, great. If you do keep it moderate (1-2 drinks a day) and supplement with folate, 1 mg. daily
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Manage your stress.
  • No more conventional dry cleaning.
  • Keep your fluids flowing! Lymph drainage, massage, yoga, sweat, regular bowel movements all help your body detoxify any environmental toxins to which you are exposed.
  • Solve your other health problems, particularly obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Eat wisely, which means….

Foods to avoid

  • Foods that raise blood sugar or stimulate insulin: sweet, refined carbohydrates

  • Inflammatory foods: foods you react to in any way, all industrially produced and genetically modified vegetable oils, trans fats, soy-containing foods.

Foods to enjoy that are helpful

  • Egg yolks (you can eat the whites if you like)
  • Vegetables, 25+ servings weekly, including
    • A variety of colors
    • Cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) 3 X a week
    • Fermented foods
  • Fish oil derived omega 3 fatty acids seem protective: eat cold water fish twice a week and take Omega 3's, such as Barlean's.
  • Fats should be organic
  • Drink green tea

And about supplements

  • Folate (or methyl folate) 1 mg daily if not eating any liverVitamin D to maintain adequate vitamin D levels (40-65 ng/mL, higher if you have already had breast cancer

  • Balance your vitamin D with vitamins A and K2 (in foods, sauerkraut and cheese, or supplement if necessary)

  • Probiotics if you have taken antibiotics

  • Iodine is protective: have your levels checked and optimized

  • Selenium is probably helpful

  • Turmeric (curcumin) probably helpful

  • Resveratrol seems to be helpful

  • Melatonin: it’s best if you make your own (you sleep 8 hours a night easily) but if sleep is challenged 5-15 mg nightly of melatonin should yield sufficient levels, and then you should keep taking it.

Does that seem like a lot, or do you already do most of these things? Do you have questions about any of the recommendations?  I hope you feel empowered, consider this list a menu from which you can choose how many and which of the recommendations work for you in your life.