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Breast Healthy Living

Breast Healthy Living

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How lifestyle choices can help shape your risk of breast cancer. It’s never too early to be proactive. Breast cancer ranks as the top health concern for women young and old. In Canada, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Despite this staggering statistic, we have made little progress in advancing our understanding of how to treat never mind prevent breast cancer. “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”. The lack of progress is in part due to our underestimating the important role that lifestyle plays in shaping a woman’s risk. Eight of every ten women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. Women living in the US have a greater risk of dying from breast cancer than do women living in Thailand. These facts underscore the important role lifestyle plays in shaping our risk. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. It is never too early to adopt a breast healthy lifestyle. What we choose to eat, drink, and apply to our skin are choices we make everyday. The following guide will help you to take proactive measures to reduce your risk through the decades: In your Twenties It’s easier to never start than to stop smoking. Most smokers pick up the habit before their 21st birthday. Starting early and smoking longer are linked with an increased risk of breast cancer. Instead, young women can adopt breast healthy diets adding cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, bok choy and kale) that enhance estrogen metabolism and reduce health problems caused by hormone imbalance. When we are young it is crucial to limit exposure to environmental hazards such as dioxins in pesticides and mercury in contaminated fish as maturing breast tissue is more vulnerable. We can do this by selecting organic produce (check out the dirty dozen list for the most heavily sprayed crops) and limiting fish intake to three servings a week. While a good diet should be the foundation of health, it may not be enough. From birth, it is recommended that we take the sunshine vitamin (D3) as a supplement as inadequate stores are linked with risk of breast cancer later on. In your Thirties Pregnancy and breastfeeding are protective to the breast. Becoming pregnant, especially having a baby before the age of 30 years, and breastfeeding are associated with a lower risk of acquiring breast cancer later in life. Skin and hair care products begin to be used and we must do so wisely. Carefully check labels and avoid those products that contain harmful ingredients such as parabens, hormone disruptors that may be linked to breast cancer. In your Forties Body shape changes commonly start at midlife. Being overweight is one of the most important predictors of breast cancer. The diagnosis of breast cancer often follows a stressful life event. In our forties, we face the...

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Can green tea or soy reduce risk of breast cancer?

Can green tea or soy reduce risk of  breast cancer?

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What about the estrogen in green tea and soy for increasing breast lumps?  My GP has told me not to drink green tea. Green tea does not contain any estrogen. In fact, some research has suggested that it may actually help in estrogen metabolism and reduce reduce risk of  breast cancer. Soy contains isoflavones which are known as phytoestrogens because they can bind to estrogen receptors and exert weak estrogenic effects. Soy foods have been shown in studies to offer many health benefits including providing protection against osteoporosis (increasing bone density), reducing risk of heart disease with beneficial effects on cholesterol, platelets and blood vessels, and relieving menopause symptoms. According to most human research, eating whole soy foods does not increase risk of breast or endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women, and may even be protective.  There is also some evidence that soy may be beneficial for cyclic breast pain and improve fibrocystic breast conditions. However, consuming purified soy products and supplements is a different matter. A study published in Carcinogenesis suggests that not only is the cancer-preventive ability of soy foods markedly reduced in highly purified soy products and supplements, but that such processed foods can stimulate the growth of pre-existing estrogen-dependent breast tumors.   Image courtesy: By 375antoine (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons Sherry Torkos Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor, and health enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion with others. Sherry graduated with honors from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992. Since that time she has been practicing holistic pharmacy in the Niagara area. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Sherry has won several national pharmacy awards for providing excellence in patient care. As a leading health expert, Sherry has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals and the public. She is frequently interviewed on radio and TV talk shows throughout North America and abroad. Sherry has authored fourteen books & booklets, including The Glycemic Index Made Simple and Breaking the Age Barrier. Her most recent book, The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine has become a national best-seller. For more information, visit:...

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Breast Cancer – What can be done to reduce your risk?

Breast Cancer – What can be done to reduce your risk?

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Breast cancer results from uncontrolled growth of breast cells. About 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Only 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer and known gene mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) account for only 5 to 10% of cases. This means that most breast cancer occurs in women without a family history. Women living in the US have a 10-fold greater risk of dying from breast cancer than do women living in Thailand. When women migrate from areas with a low incidence of breast cancer (i.e. Asia) to the US their, breast cancer risk increases. These facts suggest that environment, diet and lifestyle play an important role. Unlike gender and age, these modifiable risk factors can be controlled by; maintaining a healthy weight, diet, regular exercise, restoring hormone balance, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding environmental toxins that can serve as transforming agents for breast cancer (i.e. xenoestrogens and carcinogens). The following is a list of scientifically based interventions to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Restore Hormone Balance The phase prior to menopause (lasting 5 to 7 years) is marked by increasing levels of estrogen and falling progesterone as the ovarian follicles are no longer capable of producing efficient ovulation. As well, there is a significant shift in the balance of the three forms of estrogen as menopause approaches with falling levels of estriol (E3) and estradiol (E2) and increasing levels of estrone (E1). E1 continues to be made in postmenopausal women as it is converted in fat tissue and the adrenal glands. The surplus of E1 and low levels of protective progesterone are major contributors to the rise in breast cancer after menopause. Optimize Estrogen Metabolism Estrogens are broken down by the liver and tissue into three major metabolites -two of which have potent activity at the estrogen receptor and are both mutagenic and carcinogenic to the breast. A high “2/16 ratio” of favourable metabolites (2hydroxy-estrone) to toxic metabolites (16hydroxy- estrone) is considered protective and can be enhanced through nutritional factors that optimize the hydroxylation of estrogen. Factors that can increase the 2/16 ratio include: cruciferous vegetables indole 3-carbimole (400mg) di-iodomethionine (DIM) soy flax rosemary vitamin D3 The supplement from femMED, Breast health containing indole-3 carbinol, milk thistle extract, calcium-D- glucarate, Schizandra chinensis fruit extract, stinging nettle, lignans and vitamin D recently underwent a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Researchers were pleasantly surprised to discover consumption of the femMED supplement significantly increased the mean urinary concentration of 2- OHE in pre- and post-menopausal women (by 110% and 88%, respectively), suggesting a risk- reducing effect. The Breast Health supplement was well-tolerated, and displayed no adverse side effects. The study was published in Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research. Enhance Elimination of Toxic Estrogen Metabolites Phase 2 detoxification involves methylation and glucuronidation to enhance elimination and inactivate toxic estrogen metabolites. Phase 2 detoxification requires many important enzymatic pathways (sometimes affected by gene mutations) and nutrients such as vitamin B6,...

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