Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I wanted to share this little tidbit that I recently came across in the British Medical Journal (Feb 2009) from a study regarding breast cancer screening and whether or not it is as beneficial as we are led to believe. The study looked at 2000 women, screened regularly (via mammography) for 10 years. The findings were:

If 2000 women are screened regularly for 10 years, one will benefit from the screening, as she will avoid dying from breast cancer. At the same time, 10 healthy women will, as a consequence, become cancer patients and will be treated unnecessarily. These women will have either a part of their breast or the whole breast removed, and they will often receive radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy. Furthermore, about 200 healthy women will experience a false alarm. The psychological strain until one knows whether it was cancer, and even afterwards, can be severe...

How lucky do you feel I guess? I'm not trying to shed a negative light on the use of mammography... but it is helpful to know the facts ahead of time. If anyone is interested in reading more here is the article.

The important point I want to get across in bringing this up is really that getting screened for breast cancer via mammography is not preventative. It is just that... screening. It is a way to know sooner rather than later that the cancer is already there and growing. True prevention would be changing our lifestyles now... all you young women reading this take a moment to think about this please... research suggests that cancer takes 10+ years to develop before it can even be detected on a mammogram and/or felt on a self breast exam. I would argue that it takes even longer than that, but that's another post in itself :)

So, that means the best prevention is to take care of ourselves NOW. How? The easiest way is by establishing homeostasis/balance within our bodies...

1) Nurture your body's natural rhythms: go to bed (and wake up) at the same time each night/morning, sleep in total darkness to ensure the proper release of melatonin each night (VERY important), move your body regularly, and take time to breathe deeply and slowly.

2) Avoid exogenous hormones which stress the liver and can significantly increase your risk for cancers (especially breast): Buy organic, grass-fed, free-range meat, eggs and diary products whenever possible, consider hormone-free birth control options (copper IUD is a possible option)

3) Eat your fruits and veggies every day: broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that directly combats breast cancer by converting the cancer-promoting form of estrogen into a more protective variety.

4) Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet: It is important to have a good ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Interestingly, the standard American diet is way too high in omega-6 fats so we often need to supplement with omega-3s via fish oil, ground flax seeds etc.

5) Getting your daily vit D: Get outside and be in the sun (sans sunscreen) and/or supplement with vit D. Getting adequate levels of vit D can significantly reduce your cancer risk!

6) Play. Studies suggest that being under stress may as much as double your breast cancer risk. So, take time to nurture yourself. Discover what makes your heart smile and do it... as often as possible!

painting above from here

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