During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women and men should arm themselves with knowledge and take steps to minimize their chances of breast cancer.
As I was conducting my research recently, I was startled to learn that one in eight women will suffer from breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Although heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, breast cancer in its various forms still affects many lives. The following suggestions are from many resources and references, one of which is my favorite famous physician, Dr. Oz. When I had a television, I watched his show and felt like he was a friend greeting me each morning.
My aunt Tammy is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed a few years ago and is now in remission. Watching her endure treatments, witnessing how her body changed and admiring her big and bright smile through it all inspired our family to love each other just a little bit more. Since her diagnosis, it has been my aunt's personal mission to share preventive measures with the women of our family. So, in honor of my brave and beautiful aunt, I would like to share with you all some natural methods that may be helpful in preventing breast cancer.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Educate yourself on your family’s history with cancer. In his book The Emperor of All Maladies, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee writes that understanding the history of cancer will bring greater understanding to the future of cancer. I was fortunate enough to attend his lecture series at the University of South Florida in Tampa thanks to my friend Ryan, who is currently reading Mukherjee's book.
In addition to family history, factors including diet, weight and alcohol intake play a role in determining your risk for breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute provides a breast cancer risk calculator you can discuss with your doctor, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation offers help in developing an early detection plan including clinical and self exams (here's a video on how to do a breast self exam from ABC's The Doctors).
Foods and Supplements to Help Prevent Cancer
Researchers have isolated two key methods helpful in preventing breast cancer. One is estrogen regulation, and the other is immunity boosting.
Dr. Oz says “the foods that we eat have incredible powers to heal or harm our bodies.” He suggests that we arm ourselves with healthy food choices. Here are some of the items on Dr. Oz's anti-cancer shopping list:
- Maitake mushrooms have been tied to changes in the survival and death of certain cells, according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods. In that study, researchers found a correlation between the Maitake D-fraction supplement and an increase in cancer cell death.
- Green tea could cut cancer risk by up to half, according to studies whose subjects drank three cups a day. The antioxidant powers of EGCG are responsible for this goodness.
- Garlic is known to be an immune booster. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is associated with a reduction in tumor growth.
- Olive oil and its monosaturated fats may help suppress tumor activity.
- Turmeric may decrease estrogen levels and reduce tumor growth, although my mom swears that adding it to her diet made her break out. Just one teaspoon a day could have great results.
- Leafy greens such as kale, bok choy and Swiss chard may help bind estrogen in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce tumor stimulation while detoxifying the liver (super foods, indeed).
- Vitamin D may prevent tumor metastasis while reducing cancer cells. Taking 1200 IUs daily may also help inhibit estrogen. Fifteen to 20 minutes of sunshine every day will bring a smile to your face and contribute Vitamin D to your body.
These immune-boosting methods and estrogen-level reducers can help in many ways, and they're available at local health food stores.
Living healthy lives and educating ourselves on the risks and symptoms of cancer can help save our lives. Won’t you join me in the fight against breast cancer?
You can get involved in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donating to the cause or joining an awareness event.