12 Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention
It has becoming glaringly clear that my friends and I have come to the age where dealing with a loved one that is suffering from cancer is ubiquitous. While we might have dealt with a grandparent or distance relative, now it is touching our closest family members making it that much more important to start protecting ourselves now.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that women are dealing with today, and although it has a very high success rate, the thought of even having to deal with it is more than most of us care to think about. Therefore, the following is a list of the best ways that you can protect yourself right now, and prevent the chance of being diagnosed. While this list is specific to breast cancer, many of them can also be applied to other cancers as well. Practicing safe living is more than just eating right, it is about reducing your toxic exposure overall, so please use these tips to start taking action today.
No big surprise here. Studies have shown that consuming more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day increases your risk of developing cancer by 20-25%. So if you are going to have a drink, try organic wines, which also contain resveratrol… a cancer fighter plus other benefits! Read more about organic wines in my article “The Word on Wine, Organic Wine!”
Solution: You don’t need to drink alcohol to have some fun! Try drinking Kombucha instead! It is super healthy, really tasty and is a great “cocktail” drink. To learn more about Kombucha, read my article “I Heart Kombucha!”
The big E. Even if you were born with superhuman genes, and stay as slim and sexy as Gisele Bündchen while indulging in fast food and Mrs. Fields… you still have to exercise. Exercise has been proven time and time again to be an integral part of a cancer prevention program. So find your calling, whether that is a sweat-packed hour at soul cycle or a zen-like hiking experience, get that tush moving.
Solution: Find something to lust after! The only way to be sustainable in your workouts is to find something you LOVE. Personally it is a combination of bike riding, hiking, hot yoga and walking.
3. Hormone Pills
Ahhh the blessed hormone pills. Whether you are using them to transform you back from Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or to keep you from popping out children like Octomom, one way or the other, hormone replacement pills have been shown to be a major risk factor. Studies have shown that long-term use of estrogen and progesterone pills increase your risk of cancer up to 26%. But don’t fret; there are plenty of safe and effective alternatives that keep you in the clear.
Solution: Read my article about Birth Control Pills.
If you are looking to get pregnant, or are currently pregnant, keep this little tip in mind. Breastfeeding your children for 1 year or longer greatly decreases your risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding is not only extremely vital to sporting a child with rock star health, but it keeps you and those breasts in a healthy place as well.
Solution: Having trouble with breastfeeding or want to know more about the importance? Read this fabulous article on breast feeding and homemade infant formulas.
5. Pesticides, Herbicides, Bug Poisons
Weed killers, pesticides, and bug poisons are made up of extremely nasty chemicals that not only kill the bugs that they are designed for, but are harmful to our health too. Just because we spray them once every few months, does not mean that we are not exposed to them in the long run. Pesticides, herbicides and other poisons have actually shown to linger for years and in some cases up to a decade, so essentially we are turning our homes into toxic environment, one that actually leads to all forms of cancer, not just breast cancer. Dirty air, unhealthy body. There is a reason why there is a skull and cross bones on those things.
Did I mention that this includes conventional produce foods as well? This is one of the main reasons to buy organic, and even better than that… local as well!
Solution: Utilize integrated pest management systems to ward of pesky bugs, which include fun tricks such as using essential oils and baking soda. Learn more at The Daily Green.
Aluminum is a main ingredient in antiperspirants (it is what aids in the process of clogging the pores to block the sweat) and is known to act as a estrogen-mimicker. What that means is that every time you put on an antiperspirant, you are exposing your body to a harmful metal that interferes with your normal hormone balance. This is important because when the harmful estrogens accumulate in the body, this sets the stage for cancer. But that is not all… aluminum is known to cause direct damage to our DNA, and breast tissue likes to concentrate it. In fact, it has been shown that woman with breast cancer tend to have high levels of accumulated aluminum in their tissue, which is now thought to further solidify the link between deodorant and breast cancer. Finally, when you block the sweat from being released from the underarm, you are preventing the release of potentially harmful toxins (sweating is a natural detoxification pathway) that are now re-circulated in the body. Furthermore, this puts stress on our lymphatic system, which further compromises the immune system and sets the stage for the development of cancer cells. So please only use natural deodorants. A simple switch can make a big impact.
7. Household and Personal Care Items
While the kitchen soap may smell like lemon or your favorite lotion may smell like roses, they are actually made with harmful chemicals that we are unknowingly exposing ourselves to daily. Our skin is a highly absorbent tissue, and it takes in a large amount of what is put on it. Therefore, it is best to think twice before using chemically-driven household and personal care items. Many of these products contain chemicals like alkylphenols and parabens that are known as endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disrupting chemicals mimic hormones and have been shown to increase your risk of breast cancer. So start switching out your products, which would include everything from your shampoo, lotion, hair spray, volumizer to your laundry soap and tile cleaner.
Solution: Switch to organic, non-toxic household and personal care items like the ones listed here.
8. BPA- Water Bottles, Canned Food, Plastics and the Microwave
If you have heard it before, the warning goes “never microwave anything in plastic.” And do you know why? It is because plastics contain a toxic chemical called Bisphenol A that leaches into your food or water when heated (yes this would include water bottles sitting in a hot car). Bisphenol A, is also a hormone mimicker, which increases your risk for breast cancer and other diseases, and has been found in most all samples of bottled water, and in food that had been microwaved in plastic. Therefore, only drink out of stainless steel or glass bottles, and never microwave your food.
It is also known now that canned food contains Bisphenol A, which is leached into the food from their epoxy resin liner. Studies have shown that the amount leached is enough to cause breast cancer cells to grow, so do not eat out of cans unless they claim to be BPA-free, or just make things fresh!
Solution: Drink out of reusable glass bottles like Life Factory, heat your food in a toaster oven (I like Hamilton Beach) and eat only from BPA-free cans, like Eden Organics. Also read my article “The Microwave Risk.”
9. Dry Cleaning
PERC (perchloroethylene) is the most common chemical used at dry cleaning shops and it actually accumulates in our body fat where it may remain for long periods of time. PERC has been shown to increase the risk for breast cancer so try to find a dry cleaner that uses wet-cleaning or is PERC-free.
Solution: Try to hand wash your clothes and if you do dry clean them, investigate the ingredients they use. It is always a good idea to take the plastic off and air them outside your home as well.
Conventional sunscreens typically contain titanium oxide, which releases dioxin during its production. Small amounts of dioxin are often found in sunscreen products and are known to be carcinogenic, increasing your breast cancer risk. Many sunscreens also contain chemicals that mimic estrogens, such as 4-MBC and OMC, therefore disrupting your normal hormone balance, adding to the risk.
11. Exhaust, Tobacco, Grilled Foods
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are products of incineration found in air pollution, vehicle exhaust, tobacco, smoke and grilled foods. Exposure to PAHs has been linked with increased incidence of breast cancer in both men and women (I guess it’s all that grilling and cars).
Solution: Once again, do not smoke or be around those who smoke. And when purchasing a car, make sure it meets or exceed government standards and when driving, keep your windows closed. As for grilling, use a new method such as a slow roast and never eat the burned parts.
12. Non-Organic Dairy, Poultry, Meat and Soy…. and Big Fish
Conventional poultry, meat and therefore dairy are highly contaminated with hormones as the animals themselves are injected with copious amounts in order to stimulate rapid growth and the constant production of milk. Therefore, when you consume these products, you are receiving a good dose of hormones as well. These hormones disrupt your natural balance and can contribute to breast cancer among other cancers and disorders as well. As for soy… soy contains naturally-occurring phytoestrogens, that just like the hormones received from eating animals and drinking milk, interrupts our natural balance. Therefore, soy is another food to avoid unless occasionally eaten in its fermented and organic form.
And the Big Fish. Our old chemical friends the PCBs are just like the in laws that you can never get rid of. They have not been in production since the 1970’s but still seem to be contaminating our rivers, oceans and lakes. Unlike other substances, they bioaccumulate, meaning they are more concentrated in the animals at the top of the food chain such as the largest and fattiest fish such as tuna, swordfish, trout, catfish and shark. PCBs are also endocrine disrupters, contributing to your breast cancer risk, not to mention infertility.
Solution: Only consume on occasion organic, farmer’s market animal products (talk with your farmer to get the guarantee), fermented, non-gmo soy, and wild, locally-caught, smaller fish. Or be a vegan! It just seems so much easier that way! Learn more about the Meat Controversy in my article “The Down and Dirty Cow” and the Soy controversy in “Soy: To Eat or Not to Eat.”
Now that we have packed our brains to the gills with information about how to keep our precious breasts and ourselves, healthy and happy, I just have one more tip for you. I know that we have all done almost everything on this list, and many of these things we cannot change completely, so that is why I personally recommend taking for a period of time DIM. DIM, or diindolmethane, is a nutrient derived from cruciferous vegetables (yes, this is why eating broccoli and cabbage is so healthy), which helps to convert harmful estrogens in the body. I believe that this is imperative for all of us to take from time to time to clean up our bodies and restore the healthy hormone balance. This will help us to even the score for all those cheese platters we ate, ice creams we devoured and hormone pills we took. Because these things just don’t balance themselves, we actually need to intervene from time to time and unfortunately eating 2 pounds of broccoli a day is practically impossible. And I also want to mention, that these hormone disrupters also contribute to weight gain, acne, mood swings, PMS, menopausal symptoms, and even infertility (this goes for men big time).
Unlike never before in history, we have the tools to make a change…tools to help us change our future, so take grasp and utilize them.
♥ To the Health of All my Lovely Ladies!