Nutrition. Education. Transformation.

Breast Cancer Prevention with Nutrition

January 20, 2016

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What Increases Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

High Blood Sugar

An abundance of published research links high-normal blood glucose levels to increased breast cancer risk. We recommend a diet with sufficient protein, fat, and fiber that is low in carbohydrates, especially flour based foods. Along with lower carbohydrates, ensuring adequate intake of nutrients like chromium, magnesium and alpha lipoid acid improves insulin sensitivity, as does ensuring that you maintain youthful blood levels of hormones like DHEA.

You may have heard that cancer feeds on sugar. While it is true that cancer cells feed on glucose, it’s not that eating sugar directly feeds cancer cells, it’s that it depletes vitamins, minerals, enzymes and lower’s immunity to enable the environment for cancer to thrive along with the overall insulin spike that causes the most damage, from high fructose corn syrup for example. It’s like mainlining fuel into a tumor. When someone eats sugar, the body produces insulin, and insulin can promote breast cancer just as estrogen does. Sugar acts like a drug in your body. In fact, it affects the very same brain chemicals that heroin, amphetamines, and morphine do.

Alcohol

When the body digests alcohol and enters the blood stream, estrogen levels rise. Then when it leaves the blood stream, estrogen levels drop. Alcohol can disrupt the sleep cycle by initially increasing drowsiness, but causing shallow sleep and multiple awakenings due to the rapid metabolism and change in blood concentrations in the middle of the nights. Having multiple drinks in the same sitting will result in higher blood alcohol levels which can trigger DNA damage. An epidemiological study from Harvard found that women who reported binge-type drinking had higher breast cancer risk than those who did not. Staying at or below 5 oz. of wine and avoiding beer (due to hops being estrogenic) is recommended.

Feedlot Dairy

The increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers from high IGF-1 levels in hormone-treated milk has been documented in roughly 50 scientific publications over the past thirty years. One of the most known studies is the 1998 Harvard Nurses Health study, which showed that premenopausal women with elevated IGF-1 levels had up to a seven-fold increase in breast cancer. Women younger than age 35 who have elevated IGF-1 have more aggressive breast cancer.

There a few things to consider with dairy. Full-fat dairy is important to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D. E and K, and you should avoid non-fat versions that use sugar and corn starch to take its place. However, toxins also store in the fat, which means the source of your dairy is very important. Any residue of pesticides, herbicides, metabolic byproducts of GMO soy and corn, antibiotics and growth hormones will be in the milk.

Grass-fed dairy has many immune supporting benefits including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has been found in studies to reduce tumors of the breast, colon, lung, skin and stomach by over 50 percent and shrink abdominal fat. CLA can also be found in grass-fed meat. Always choose grass-fed, organic, free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Non-Organic Coffee and Potentially High Amounts of Caffeine

B-vitamins are known as the “anti-stress” vitamins, and coffee in excess can deplete b-vitamins due to its diuretic action. The acids in coffee may also corrode the small intestine’s villi which decreases vitamin absorption. Calcium and other mineral deficiencies can also occur when chronic damage to the villi.

Coffee and Cortisol

Caffeine, specifically in coffee, has been shown to elevate stress hormones including cortisol. These hormones are responsible for increased heart rate and blood pressure, a sense of “emergency alert,” increased blood pressure, low immunity, sleeping disorders and weight management. One study from Norway found that coffee consumption in nurses was significantly related to cortisol levels in the evening.

Why to Choose Organic, Fair Trade Coffee

Non-organic coffee is one the heaviest sprayed crops with pesticides, and chemicals used may not fall under the same regulations of banned chemicals as the United States. Here are some quick facts regarding pesticides:

In animal studies, many pesticides are carcinogenic, while others (notably, the organochlorines DDT, chlordane, and lindane) are tumor promoters.

The herbicide atrazine, found in 94% of our water supply, has been linked to birth defects, infertility and cancer.

Women exposed to the pesticide endosulfan during pregnancy are more likely to have autistic children. A global ban is in place for endosulfan which is used against the coffee cherry borer.

Aluminum Based Anti-Perspirants

A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology has shown that the aluminum is absorbed by your body and is deposited in the breast tissue. In fact, it was even can be found in nipple aspirate fluid, a fluid present in the breast duct tree that mirrors the microenvironment in your breast. Researchers determined that the mean level of aluminum in nipple aspirate fluid was significantly higher in breast cancer-affected women compared to healthy women. The researchers concluded that the reasons for the high levels of aluminium in NAF remain unknown but possibilities include either exposure to aluminium-based antiperspirant salts in the adjacent underarm area. Aluminum salts can mimic the hormone estrogen, and chemicals that imitate that hormone are known to increase breast cancer risk.

Cheri recommends using Pit Powder as a natural alternative.

Non-Organic Fruits, Vegetables and Xenoestrogens

Avoid non-organic fruits and vegetables (pesticides mimic estrogen), non-organic meat and dairy, plastic water bottles (xenoestrogens are the worst kind to mimic estrogen), caffeinated green tea or sodas, chemically made cleaning products, lotions, shampoo etc. (they all add up!). One study discovered parabens, chemicals found in most skin care products and deodorants, in 99% of breast tumors removed in women being treated for primary breast cancer. Parabens are just one of the many chemicals that have an established link with breast cancer incidence BPA is another toxin linked to breast cancer.

Trans-Fats and Vegetable Oils

Consuming trans-fats hidden in foods such as French fries, potato chips, doughnuts and thousands of other foods may increase your risk of cancer. Vegetable oils (soy, corn, canola, sunflower and safflower) are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, processed with chemical methods, and the majority also include pesticide and herbicide residue due to being GMO. When vegetable oils and sugar are heated – say in fried, baked or sautéed food, they create more than 100 dangerous toxic oxidative compounds like free radicals.

BRCA1

A healthy BRCA1 gene produces a protein that protects against unwanted cell growth and maintains genomic stability.
While having one variant is associated with a 50-60% risk for breast cancer and 40-70% risk for ovarian cancer over a lifetime (Stanford), a gene has to be activated by other epigenetic factors, such as lifestyle and dietary factors, stress, hormones, xenobiotic exposure, oxidative damage, AGEs (advanced glycation end products) and many factors that potentially collide to cause double strand breaks and are linked to breast and ovarian cancer (Susan Cohen, Pharmacist).

How to Decrease Your Risk of Breast Cancer 

We highly recommend getting a Nutrient Genome Report done to determine the most optimal way to strengthen your body.

If breast cancer is estrogen positive, consume anti-estrogenic foods including: broccoli, cabbage, sauerkraut, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, apples, onions, grapefruit, celery, parsley, oranges and tomatoes. Lycopene from watermelon and tomatoes have been found in studies to protect against breast cancer.

All of the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage contain the phytochemicals sulforaphane, isothiocynates and
indole-3 carbinol. A form of selenium found in broccoli and garlic in particular has been found to suppress chemically induced mammary tumors in animals. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemisty found that isothiocynates produced during the fermentation of cabbage prevented cancer growth in the breast, colon, lung and liver. A study from the University of New Mexico published a study linking sauerkraut consumption in adolescent females to a reduced risk of breast, colon, lung and liver cancer.

Researchers at Boston University studied the diets of over 50,000 women for 12 years and found that the women who ate at least two servings daily of colorful vegetables had a 43% reduced risk of breast cancer, while having three or four per week only reduced it by 17%.

Recent studies show that vitamin D, iodine, green tea, pomegranate, curcumin, and fermented soy may help promote breast health and reduce breast cancer risk. Certain foods are rich in healthful compounds known as polyphenols, which are active in many pathways that regulate cell growth and metabolism.

Vitamin D

Population studies show lower breast cancer rates in areas of the US that get more sunlight, and laboratory studies show that vitamin D has anticancer effects for over 16 different types of cancer. Vitamin D suppresses growth of breast cancer by blocking signals that stimulate cancer cell growth, by enhancing signals that inhibit cancer cell growth, and by favorably altering regulators of the cell cycle. This three-pronged attack can prevent mutated cells from becoming malignant and even induce cancer cell death. In addition, vitamin D plays a role in the effects hormones have on breast cancer, including the potential stimulating effects of growth hormone and prolactin.

A pooled analysis examining the dose-response association between serum vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk revealed that women with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of approximately 52 ng/mL (130 nmol/L) had a 50% lower risk compared with women who had serum levels <13 ng/mL (32 nmol/L). This protective serum level correlates with approximately 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

It is very important that sufficient vitamin A, K2, calcium and magnesium are taken with vitamin D therapy. Vitamin D increases the need for A and K2, can cause calcification without enough magnesium, and can cause the uptake of heavy metals without sufficient calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Iodine

In the past 40 years, iodine deficiency has increased more than 4 fold in the developed world. An estimated 74 percent of healthy adults may now be deficient. Iodine is present in seaweed and seafood, however bromide (fire retardants in mattresses, carpet, sofa, bread conditioners, brominated vegetable oils in drinks and pesticides) fluoride, perchlorate and chloride in our drinking water and ground water all block the body’s ability to absorb and utilize iodine.

An estimated 30 percent of iodine stores are in the breast tissue, and has been shown to exert as powerful of an antioxidant effect as vitamin C. Iodine deficient breast tissue exhibits the early markers of cancer development. Japanese women consume a diet high in iodine-rich seaweed, which provides them with an iodine intake 25 times higher than the average American woman’s. Japanese women also have breast cancer rates roughly one-third of those found in American women, a difference that disappears in Japanese women who immigrate to the US, where they consume considerably less seaweed. Kelp and bladderwrack from pristine waters are the best sources of dietary iodine. For supplementing with iodine, make an appointment with Dr. Barrett in Costa Mesa to test iodine levels and a dose recommendation.

Green Tea

In laboratory studies, green tea polyphenols and EGCG have been shown to suppress the growth and reproduction of human breast cancer cells. These beneficial compounds in green tea delay the appearance of tumors in mouse models of breast cancer27 and cut down on the total tumor burden (amount of cancer in the body) when human breast cancer cells are injected into laboratory mice.

Green tea also has been found to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production,which cuts off the blood supply needed for tumor growth; down-regulation of estrogen receptor-alpha function in breast cancer cells, eduction of tumor invasiveness, increased apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells.

2-4 cups of green tea or taking green tea extract supplements are recommend for cancer prevention.

Rose Hips

A 1 mg dose of rosehip extract reduced the growth of triple-negative cancer cells by 50 per cent and limited its spread by up to 45 per cent, researchers from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University have discovered recently in major breakthrough research.

They exposed cancer cell lines to various strengths of rosehip extract, and the effect lessened with decreasing concentrations. The extract also appears to make the chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, more effective.

Pomegranates

Like green tea, the pomegranate is rich in beneficial polyphenols or flavonoids. Although it has long been valued as a medicinal plant, there have been seven times as many published studies regarding pomegranate in the past seven years as in all the preceding years. In addition to having anti-inflammatory effects, the juice, peel, and oil also have demonstrated anticancer activities, including interference with tumor cell growth and reproduction, cell cycle control, tumor invasion, and new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis). In one study, purified pomegranate extract and pomegranate seed oil each reduced tumors in mouse mammary gland culture by a dramatic 87%.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin appears to be effective against breast cancer cells that are genetically resistant to traditional chemotherapy and against both estrogen-positive and -negative breast cancer cells. According to Dr. Aggarwal, “curcumin has been shown to down-regulate HER2 expression, thus mimicking Herceptin®, a drug approved for women who have HER2-positive breast cancer.“Additionally, curcumin has been shown to sensitize the tumors to chemotherapy and gamma radiation.” Curcumin has none of the serious toxicity associated with chemotherapy drugs.

Soy

Scientists have long wondered whether the low incidence of breast cancer in Asian women following a traditional diet5 may result from dietary factors, notably high consumption of soy and green tea. A review of several epidemiological studies suggests that high dietary intake of soy, in the amount typically consumed by Asian populations, may have protective effects against breast cancer.

According to in-Rong Zhou, PhD, assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, “the combination of soy and tea (especially green tea) significantly prevented the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancer in a synergistic manner in our research.”

*While there has been a lot of bad press on soy, it is due to heavily processed genetically modified soy that is a concern, not traditionally prepared organic soy. We recommend miso, tempeh, sprouted tofu and natto as the only types of soy to consume.

Breast Cancer Screening

In an article titled Breast Cancer or Benign Lesion? (Well Being Journal March/April 2012) Sayer Ji explains that the first line of treatment for ductal carcinoma in stiu (DCIS) for most of the 20th century has been mastectomy. DCIS is a type of non-invasive breast cancer that originates in the milk ducts. In situ actually means “in place” while cancer derives from the word crab, indicating the manner in which it expands out in multiple directions. Major authorities define DCIS as “precancerous,”implying that it will eventually turn into cancer. Between 30-50% of new breast cancer diagnoses obtained through mammography are classified as DCIS and is considered noninvasive or “stage zero breast cancer,” with some arguing that it should be reclassified as a noncancerous condition.

The United States has one of the highest x-ray diagnostic mammography rates, and also has the highest level of DCIS in the world. According to Ji, the weight of evidence indicates that significantly less than 50 percent of DCIS progresses to invasive cancer, perhaps as low as 2-4%.

Recommended Supplementation for Breast Cancer Prevention

For improving the function of BRCA1, selenium, resveratrol and choline appear to be key players.

1. Selenium: Selenium may be protective by preventing DNA damage from occurring as well as by increasing the activity of repair enzymes such as DNA glycosylases and DNA damage repair pathways that involve p53, BRCA1 and Gadd45. Breast cancers in women with BRCA1 abnormalities are more likely to be estrogen-receptor-negative — meaning that the cancer’s growth is not fueled by the hormone estrogen — and to have “high-grade ” cell growth. Both of these characteristics mean that chemotherapy will be more effective than hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy in treating these cancers.

2. Choline: Results form another study found that higher choline intake was associated with decreased breast cancer risk. The researchers observed that very low choline intake was associated with more frequent BRCA1 promoter methylation (turn genes in the off position). Choline is found in eggs, fish, bone marrow, fish eggs and small amounts in cauliflower and collard greens.

3. Resveratrol: In 2012, a study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry that looked at the role a natural compound called resveratrol may play in preventing the inactivation of the BRCA-1 gene. When the BRCA-1 gene is rendered dysfunctional or becomes inactivated, either through a congenital/germline inheritance of DNA defects (‘mutation’) or through chemical exposures, the result is the same: harm to the DNA repair mechanisms within the affected cells (particularly breast and ovary), hence increasing the risk of cancer.

 See the DNA damage and repair chart at Nutrition to learn more.

1. Thorne Basic Nutrients 2 a Day

This formula contains methylated b-vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, iodine, vitamin D and other important nutrients. B-vitamins help normalize estrogen and repair DNA. If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, methylated b-vitamins are needed for absorption. The MTHFR gene mutation slows down methylation and the ability to create anti-oxidants and detoxify the body. Because toxins are a common environmental trigger to cancer, and the genetic mutation impairs this detoxification process, it is speculated that this particular gene mutation is the link to cancer risk – yet thousands of people are unaware they have the MTHFR gene.

2. Coriolus Versicolor

Coriolus has over 600 studies and 24 human clinical trials, and appears in herbal texts dating back to the 16th century. The beta-glucans in this mushroom activate many components of the immune system. Receptors for the beta-glucans have been found in neutrophils, monocytes/macrophages, natural killer cells, and also T and B lymphocytes. It is widely used in Japan (25% of cancer care costs go to Turkey Tail cancer therapy) and China as immune support for those undergoing chemo and radiation. Recent American research has shown noticeable immuno-modulating activity.

Mulitple studies have shown that PSK (Coriolus polysaccharides) is associated with higher survival rates after chemotherapy and/or radiation compared to groups who only did chemo/ radiation and did not take PSK. A seven year, $2 million NIH funded clinical study jointly conducted by Bastyr University and the University of Minnesota, shows that freeze-dried Turkey Tail mushroom mycelium supports immune function when administered to women with stage I- III breast cancer.

“I have long recommended Turkey Tail and other medicinal mushrooms to persons with cancer. They are nontoxic, do not interfere with conventional therapies, and strengthen the body’s defenses,” affirmed Andrew Weil, MD. During therapy. Coriolus improves quality of the patients’ life by decreasing pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, along with improving effectiveness of chemo and radiation.

3. Virgin Cod Liver Oil or Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil

Contains vitamin A, D, EPA and DHA. Vitamin A has been found to protect against various cancers including breast cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids have been correlated with lower rates of breast cancer in studies. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin and affects over 3000 genes. This is possibly why it has such strong activity against cancer. It has been linked to the prevention of 16 different cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, skin and ovarian cancer. 65% of the US population can be classified as vitamin D insufficient.

Several test tube (in vitro) and animal experiments have clearly shown that the long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main components of fish oil, help inhibit the promotion and progression of cancer.

Their beneficial effect is particularly pronounced in hormone-dependent cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. Researchers at Sweden’s famous Karolinska Institute have just published a comprehensive review of the current knowledge regarding the role of PUFAs in carcinogenesis. They conclude that omega-3 PUFAs are protective against cancer progression, while omega-6 PUFAs, notably arachidonic acid and its derivatives, help promote the growth of cancer. They believe the n-3 PUFAs exert their beneficial effects in several different ways:

  • They suppress the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids from arachidonic acid and thus produce an overall anti-inflammatory effect.
  • They positively affect gene expression or the activities of signal transduction molecules involved in the control of cell growth, differentiation apoptosis, angiogenesis and metastasis.
  • They suppress excessive production of nitrogen oxide (NO) during chronic inflammation and thereby help prevent DNA damage and impaired DNA repair.
  • They decrease estrogen production and thus reduce the estrogen-stimulated growth of hormone- dependent cancer cells.
  • Fish oils improve insulin sensitivity and cell membrane fluidity and may help prevent metastasis through these effects.
  • A recent report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, adds to the growing evidence that fish oil supplements may play a role in preventing chronic disease. Researchers found that regular use of fish oil supplements, which contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, was linked with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. The reduction in risk appeared to be restricted to invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type of the disease. This research is the first to demonstrate a link between the use of fish oil supplements and a reduction in breast cancer.

4. Liver DTX

Curcumin, milk thistle, reishi, dandelion extract and shisandra all help cleanse the liver and increase immunity. Curcumin and reishi in particular have anti-cancer activity.

5. Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium is low in up to 80 percent of the population due to depleted supplies in water, soil and from poor diets or high calcium supplementation to low magnesium intake. Magnesium is essential for DNA duplication and repair, blood sugar control, and and deficiency favors DNA mutations leading to carcinogenesis.

 

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2. Pettingale, K.W. “Towards a Psychobiological Model of Cancer: Biological Considerations.” Social Science & Medicine 20 (1985), 179-187. See also: Lippman, M.E. “Psychosocial Factors and the Hormonal Regulation of Tumor Growth:”BehaviorandCancer, edited by Levy, S.M. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985), 134-147.

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