Breast Cancer

How Curcumin Targets Cancer

By Dr. Mercola

Turmeric, a yellow curry spice used in Indian cuisine, has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine. Curcumin is one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric,1 having over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and powerful anticancer actions.

Cancer has an incredible global impact and places a vast financial and emotional burden on the families it touches. Nearly 40 percent of American men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and over $125 billion is spent annually on medical treatment and patient care.2

The American Cancer Society estimated there would be over 1.6 million new cases diagnosed in 2017, equating to 4,630 new cases and 1,650 deaths every day.3 The most common types of cancer include breast, colon, lung and prostate.4

Despite advances in cancer treatment protocols, scientists realize prevention plays an essential role in reducing the number of people who die from the disease. After 30 years of testing more than 1,000 different possible anticancer substances, the National Cancer Institute announced that curcumin has joined an elite group that will now be used in clinical trials for chemoprevention.5

Curcumin May Play a Multitargeted Role Against Cancer Cells

 

 

In this interview, Dr. William LaValley discusses the interaction curcumin has on cancer and the multiple ways this molecule affects cancer growth. If you have ever been diagnosed with cancer, it may feel as if it grew overnight when, in fact, cancer cells take years to develop.

The progression of a cell from normal growth to cancer happens through several stages. Deregulation of physiological and mechanical processes that initiate and promote the growth of cancer cells makes use of hundreds of genes and signaling routes, making it apparent a multitargeted approach is needed for prevention and treatment.

Research has demonstrated that curcumin has a broad range of actions as it is able to effect multiple cellular targets.6 Studies have found, based on the activities of curcumin in the body, the spice could be an effective method of cancer prevention, or in treatment when used in conjunction with conventional treatment protocols.

The multifaceted action of curcumin has made it useful in the treatments of several different types of diseases, including colon cancer,7 pancreatic cancer8 and amyloidosis.9

Curcumin triggers a variety of actions that affect the growth, replication and death of cancer cells. Cancer cells lose the ability to die naturally, which plays a significant role in the hyperproliferation of cells common to cancer. Curcumin is able to turn on the apoptosis (cell death) signaling pathway, enabling the cells to die within a natural time span.10

Cancer cells thrive in an inflammatory environment. Although short-term inflammation is beneficial for healing, long-term inflammation increases your risk of disease. Curcumin is able to block the pro-inflammatory response at several points and reduce the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body.11

The strong anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may match the effect of some drugs.12 Early in development, cancer cells learn to replicate and grow in an environment cells normally find inhospitable. Curcumin may change the signaling through several pathways, and put a stop to this replication.13

Curcumin may also stop the ability of cancer stem cells from replicating and reduce the potential for recurrence after treatment. Curcumin also helps support your immune system, capable of seeking out and destroying early cancer cells naturally.

Curcumin May Enhance Cancer Treatment and Chemotherapy

Some of the same ways that curcumin works in your body are the processes used to enhance your cancer treatments and chemotherapy.

While some chemotherapy has been developed to target specific cells, most therapy drugs are nonspecific and affect all cells in your body. Some studies in the past decade have demonstrated exciting potential for curcumin in the fight against cancer.

In addition to changes to your cells mentioned above, researchers have found curcumin may help protect your body against the damage caused from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and it may enhance the effect of these same treatments, making them more effective.

These effects have been demonstrated in animal models treating head and neck tumors,14 and in culture of human breast, esophageal and colon cancers.15,16

Patients treated for chronic myeloid leukemia with chemotherapy exhibited a reduction in cancer growth factor when curcumin was added to the treatment protocol, potentially improving the results of the chemotherapy over being used alone.17

Protection against radiation therapy was demonstrated in a study using breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.18 At the end of the study those taking curcumin had less radiation damage to their skin.

Curcumin has also been effective against angiogenesis in tumors, or the growth of new blood vessels to feed the overgrowth of cancer cells, and against metastasis.19

Curcumin is able to affect cancer cells through multiple pathways and has fulfilled the traits for an ideal cancer prevention agent as it has low toxicity, is affordable and is easily accessible. However, while effective, it has poor bioavailability on its own.20

Poor Absorption Has One Benefit

In my interview with LaValley, he discussed the poor bioavailability of curcumin in raw form. Only 1 percent of the product will be absorbed; even supplements that have a 95 percent concentration are absorbed at 1 percent.

This means, when the supplement is taken alone, it is a challenge to maintain a therapeutic level. However, in the case of colon cancer, this poor absorption into the bloodstream may be an advantage.

As there is poor absorption, higher levels of curcumin stay in the intestinal tract for longer periods of time, having an effect on gastrointestinal cancers. In one study, participants took a 1,080 milligram (mg) dose per day of curcumin for 10 to 30 days between their initial biopsy and surgical removal.

The patients taking the supplement experienced a reduction in blood levels of inflammatory agent, improvement in their body weight, and an increased number of dying tumor cells.21

A team of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and at Pondicherry University, India, discovered the bioactive ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can both prevent and cure bowel cancers.22 The team found the compound triggered cancer cell death by increasing a level of protein labeled GADD45a.23Lead author Rajasekaran Baskaran, Ph.D., who has more than 20 years of experience in cancer research, commented:24

“Studies on the effect of curcumin on cancer and normal cells will be useful for the ongoing preclinical and clinical investigations on this potential chemopreventive agent.”

As an increased bioavailability and absorption may also improve the actions of curcumin in the body, researchers have studied a variety of different delivery methods, including oral, intravenous, subcutaneous and intraperitoneal, as well as different formulations of the product.25

Bioavailability improved when curcumin was delivered as a nanoparticle, in combination with polylactic-co-glycolic acid, liposomal encapsulation26 and when taken orally with piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper.27

Multiple Types of Cancer Affected by Curcumin

Research demonstrates that while curcumin has multiple pathways through which it impacts cancer cells, the substance also has an effect on multiple types of cancer. Studies estimate that genetics may play a role in approximately 5 percent of all cancers, with the majority of cancer growth attributed to lifestyle choices.28

Research demonstrates curcumin exhibits activity against breast cancer and decreases the toxic effect against some of the chemotherapy agents commonly used.29 Mitomycin C is a potent antineoplastic drug. However, prolonged use may lead to kidney and bone marrow damage, with secondary tumor growth. Curcumin appears to reduce the side effects of Mitomycin C and improve the efficiency of the drug at the same time.30

Another study demonstrated that curcumin inhibited the growth and metastasis of lung cancer cells.31One of the deadliest cancers worldwide, pancreatic cancer, also appears to respond to the use of curcumin in preclinical trials.32 The antiproliferative effects on pancreatic cancer appeared to be from a reduction in oxidative stress and angiogenesis and triggering apoptosis of cancer cells.

Apoptosis, anti-inflammatory actions, reduction in angiogenesis and reduction in the adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents has also led researchers to consider curcumin an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of liver cancer.33 Curcumin also inhibited and slowed the development of bladder cancer in rats,34 stopped the formation of metastasis in prostate cancer,35 and when combined with ultrasound, increased death of cervical cancer cells.36

But not all scientists are convinced by the number of studies over the past 15 years demonstrating the multiple effects curcumin has on the inflammatory response and cancers, as well as the low toxicity profile.37 In one meta-analysis, researchers claimed curcumin could not meet the criteria for a good drug candidate.38

More Benefits to Curcumin

Curcumin offers additional benefits to your health. It may work as well as some anti-inflammatory medications to treat arthritic conditions.39 In combination with aerobic exercise, curcumin was found to improve endothelial cell function in postmenopausal women,40 and was also found to ameliorate arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the elderly.41

Disease processes may increase oxidative stress and free radical formation in your body. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant,42 but also may boost the function of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes.43

Your brain can develop new connections powered by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).44Reduced levels of this hormone may be linked to depression and Alzheimer’s disease. However, curcumin can increase your levels of BDNF45 and effectively reduce your potential for suffering from age-related reduction in brain function.46

Researchers have also discovered that curcumin has an effect on several pathways in your body that may reverse insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia and other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity.47 The reduced potential for metabolic syndrome and obesity is related to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, which may also have an effect on heart disease, atherosclerosis and Type 2 diabetes.48

Genetic Regulation May Be One Powerful Way Curcumin Fights Cancer

It is becoming widely accepted that cancer is not a preprogrammed inevitability, but rather the result of the impact of your environment on genetic regulation that may trigger cancer cell growth. There are multiple influences that may damage or mutate DNA, and consequently alter genetic expression, including:

Researchers have demonstrated curcumin may affect more than 100 different pathways in your cells, helping to prevent hyperproliferation of cell growth characteristic of cancer, and aiding in the treatment of the disease. Through the reduction of inflammation, prevention of the development of additional blood supply to support cancer cell growth and destruction of mutated cells to reduce metastasis, curcumin has great medicinal and preventive potential.

Several studies have demonstrated an impact on transcription factors and signaling pathways, and have reviewed the molecular mechanisms curcumin uses to regulate and modulate gene expression.49,50,51 Overall, curcumin is powerful, cost-effective and has a low toxicity profile.52

Using a Curcumin Supplement

Turmeric is a wonderful spice used in Eastern culture cuisine. It is one spice I recommend for your kitchen as it works well with tomato sauces, soups, leafy greens, cauliflower, stir-fries and stews. Choose a high-quality turmeric powder instead of curry powder as studies have found some curry powders have very little curcumin.

If you are looking for therapeutic effects, you may want to consider a supplement. It is difficult to achieve a dose of curcumin used in research solely from your diet. Typical anticancer doses range between 1,200 and 3,000 grams of bioavailable curcumin extract.

You can increase the absorption by making a microemulsion, combining 1 tablespoon of curcumin powder with one or two egg yolks and 1 to 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil, as the curcumin is fat soluble. Then use a hand blender on high speed to emulsify the powder.

Absorption may also be increased through boiling. Add 1 tablespoon into a quart of boiling water. (If you add it to room temperature water and then boil, it doesn’t work as well.) After boiling it for 10 minutes, you will have created a 12 percent solution and you can drink this once it has cooled down. The curcumin will gradually fall out of the solution over time, and in about six hours it will be a 6 percent solution, so it is best to drink the water within four hours.

Curcumin is a very potent yellow pigment and can permanently discolor surfaces if you aren’t careful. To avoid inadvertently staining your kitchen yellow, I recommend you perform any mixing under the hood of your stove with the exhaust fan on to make sure no powder gets into your kitchen.

Alternatively, it is far easier to take curcumin in supplement form — just make sure it’s a high-quality brand that is formulated to increase bioavailability. And, look for a turmeric extract with at least 95 percent curcuminoids. Just be aware that these are relatively rare and hard to find.

Your health is under siege from every direction. Environmental toxins, ultra-processed foods, EMFs, government-subsidized GMOs and a host of other threats surround us. It is simply not possible to protect yourself unless you are armed with cutting edge health information.

The most complex tasks can be made easy if you just take one step at a time. Taken as a whole, this 30-tip plan makes for a comprehensive guide that can change your life. Just a few of the topics addressed are:

  • What to eat and when to eat it
  • Exercise strategies that you can implement today
  • The power of emotional health
  • Enhancing your health with essentials like air, sunshine and water
  • How to get the restorative sleep that your body requires

It may seem that health and wellness are no longer the norm. An opioid epidemic sweeps the country, the obesity rate is skyrocketing, life expectancy is dropping and chronic diseases are rampant. Our communities are being damaged at every level and the only way to reverse these trends is through education and personal example. My 30-tip plan provides you with the tools you need to take control of your health. The time is ripe for revolution — a health revolution.

 

Sources and References

Lack of Exercise Can Raise The Risk of Breast Cancer

Research shows a link between exercising regularly at a moderate or intense level for 4 to 7 hours per week and a lower risk of breast cancer. Exercise consumes and controls blood sugar and limits blood levels of insulin growth factor, a hormone that can affect how breast cells grow and behave. People who exercise regularly tend to be healthier and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and have little or no excess fat compared to people who don’t exercise.

Fat cells make estrogen and extra fat cells make extra estrogen. When breast cells are exposed to extra estrogen over time, the risk of developing breast cancer is higher.

Steps you can take

Exercise is now considered such an important part of daily life that the United States Department of Agriculture added it to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the U.S. government’s guide to healthy eating. The American Cancer Society recommends that women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer exercise regularly (about 4 to 5 hours per week) to improve their quality of life and physical fitness, as well as to reduce the risk of developing new cancers. Research shows that women who exercise the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace after being diagnosed with breast cancer may improve their chances of surviving the disease.

Start slowly: The first thing to do is to talk to your doctor and possibly a certified fitness trainer about a safe and sensible plan designed specifically for you and your needs and physical abilities. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor about a healthy weight for your age, height, body type, and activity level.

You may want to start gradually, maybe walking for 15 minutes a day and then slowly increasing the amount of time you spend exercising, as well as the intensity level of each session. You may need months to work your way up to 5 hours a week, but that’s OK.

If you’re not sure how to start exercising, you might want to visit a gym or make an appointment with a certified personal trainer to learn about different types of exercise. Some people prefer exercising in their homes using videotapes or DVDs. Others find great joy in gardening or building things, as opposed to organized exercise. Some people love being part of a team and playing soccer or baseball. Walking or jogging with a friend is a great way to socialize AND get the benefits of exercise. Dancing to great music is great exercise. With so many different ways to move, you’re bound to find a way to exercise that suits your personality and schedule. If you can find one or a mix of exercises that you think are fun and not boring, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it.

(Article Excerpt from Breastcancer.org)   – See more at: http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/exercise.

The Question of Soy and its Effect on Breast Cancer

Soybeans are the most widely used, least expensive, and least caloric way to get large amounts of protein with very little fat and no cholesterol. Soy is the main source of protein for billions of people around the world.

Some doctors are concerned about the safety of eating soy for women diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s because soy contains a protein, called isoflavone, which can act like a weak estrogen. Concentrated soy products, such as powders, pills, and capsules, contain more isoflavones compared to soy foods, such as tofu, soy milk, and the beans themselves (also called edamame). Hormone-like substances in plants are called phytoestrogens. The growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers may be turned on by these substances.

Other doctors think soy might protect breast health because the hormone-like strength of isoflavones is MUCH weaker than the estrogen your body naturally makes. So it might be healthier if soy’s weak isoflavones wash out or replace some of your body’s stronger estrogen.

Doctors in the middle say it’s OK to eat soy foods because they are a healthy source of protein. But avoid — or greatly limit — your use of concentrated soy products.

Let’s keep things in perspective: Soy is NOT a major risk factor for breast cancer. At most, there is a concern about soy foods and a worry about soy products. We’re addressing this issue because a lot of you have asked us about things you can do in your everyday life to lower your risk and asked specifically about soy.

It turns out that the research on soy and its effect on breast cancer risk is unclear. You can find studies showing that soy is helpful, harmful, or harmless related to the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer or a recurrence.

It’s not clear why the results are so different. It might be due to differences in a woman’s age, diet history, weight, amount of physical activity, and other aspects of her health.

Current studies are starting to figure out how the many different compounds in soy affect our bodies. In general though, most doctors believe that it’s safe to eat a moderate amount of soy foods, with or without a history of breast cancer.

Soy 101

When I say soy, I mean all forms of soy foods, not byproducts such as concentrated soy protein powder and soybean oil that are found in many processed foods. Those are topics for another column.

Soy is promoted as a healthy option for vegetarians or for people who want to cut back on foods that come from animals.

Soymilk is a popular plant-based alternative to cow’s milk for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant. Unsweetened soymilk is comparable to cow’s milk in terms of calories, protein, and fat. It also has less sugar than cow’s milk. (Most plant or animal milks naturally contain some sugar.) Soymilk also provides important nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, along with fiber and potassium.

Other substances in soy foods are thought to help keep cell growth and activity normal, regulate cholesterol, and protect cells from harmful chemicals called free radicals.

As discussed above, soy also contains phytoestrogens — weak estrogen-like compounds found in some plants. Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens. Some of the isoflavones in soy include genistein and daidzen. Equol is another isoflavone that comes from soy, but it’s only made by certain people when bacteria in their intestines break down daidzen. Not all people have the intestinal bacteria that create equol, so it’s not found in all people.

Because estrogen plays a significant role in the development, spread, and growth of breast cancers, there has been concern that eating a lot of estrogen-like soy compounds might also affect breast cancer risk.

So, is soy good or bad for breast health? 

The question is especially important for women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. Big doses of isoflavones could overstimulate hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Small amounts of isoflavones in soy foods are less likely to cause a problem. Isoflavones also may get in the way of hormonal therapy medicine’s ability to do its job. Tamoxifen and isoflavones both work in the estrogen receptors in the body.  IF isoflavones deliver a weaker estrogen signal to the receptor compared to tamoxifen (and your body’s estrogen), then the isoflavones might provide extra protection against this type of breast cancer. But if isoflavones give breast cells a stronger estrogen signal than tamoxifen, that’s a problem. Large amounts of isoflavones could interfere with the goal of the aromatase inhibitors, which are Arimidex (chemical name: anastrazole), Femara (chemical name: letrozole), and Aromasin (chemical name: exemestane). Aromatase inhibitors, another type of hormonal therapy, lower the amount of estrogen available in the body to interact with the estrogen receptor.

So there are reasons why some doctors advise women diagnosed with breast cancer to limit or stop eating soy, while other doctors tell them to eat more.

The research: benefits

Most of the reassuring news about breast cancer and soy comes from studies on groups of people and their consumption of soy foods, not soy products.

There’s an association between eating soy and lower rates of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer in women living in Asia. The link is weaker for Asian women living in Western countries. People living in Asia eat up to 10 times more soy than people living in the West. Because of this, experts wondered if eating a lot of soy helped protect against breast cancer. Of course, there are other healthy aspects to the Asian lifestyle besides soy that could help explain the lower rate of breast cancer, such as less obesity, more physical activity, and less alcohol use.

There are also studies that found no association between soy and a higher risk of breast cancer or its recurrence. For example, a 2009 study of postmenopausal women found that soy isoflavones didn’t increase breast density. This was an important finding since dense breasts are linked to a higher risk of cancer. Another 2009 study on more than 5,000 Chinese women diagnosed with breast cancer found that a diet rich in soy did not increase the risk of recurrence.

More recent, bigger studies and research reviews suggest eating soy foods (not concentrated soy products) can be protective for some people.

  • A 2014 analysis of 35 studies found eating soy foods was linked to a lower risk of breast cancer both before and after menopause for women in Asian countries, but not women in Western countries. Still, when researchers combined results from three large studies involving nearly 10,000 women, they found a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence in both U.S. and Chinese women who ate soy and had been diagnosed with breast cancer. This was especially true for women who had estrogen-receptor-negative disease. Risk dropped by 25% in women who ate about 10 grams of soy daily, an amount similar to what’s in a standard Japanese diet.
  • A study of 15,000 Japanese women found eating moderate-to-high amounts of soy foods was linked to lower breast cancer risk after menopause.
  • An analysis of more than 130 studies on soy consumption found that eating about 1½ cups of soy foods daily was linked to a lower risk of recurrence and dying from breast cancer for women who had been diagnosed, regardless of their ethnicity.

Recent research also suggests that the age a woman begins eating soy foods plays a role in soy’s effect on breast cancer risk. Asian women begin eating moderate to high amounts of soy foods as children. Scientists think that may be why the most protective results have been seen in these women. Eating soy foods early in life might reduce the risk of developing breast cancer because soy seems to contribute to breast-tissue differentiation in developing girls, which seems to be protective. Tissue differentiation is when cells line up to function as they’re supposed to. There’s also some evidence suggesting a link between better survival and eating soy foods a year or more after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

While all these results seem encouraging, other studies offer different results.

The research: risks

Most of the troubling results about soy come from studies on lab animals and cells. Research has shown that certain isoflavones in soy seem to encourage cancer cell or tumor growth and spread, particularly around menopause. For example, lab studies have found that low concentrations of the isoflavone genistein stimulated the growth of estrogen-receptor-positive breast tumors and interfered with the effects of tamoxifen.

Another concern is whether soy’s estrogen-like effects worsen outcomes for women newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. A small and short 2014 study suggests that for some of these women, adding about 4 cups of soy milk to their diets turns on several genes that encourage cell growth. The study didn’t last long enough to know whether these genetic changes would cause cancer to grow, and the study also didn’t look at whether soy does or doesn’t reduce the risk of breast cancer.

The research: mixed results

Some research has found that soy has different effects under different conditions.

For example, research done in animals has shown that high concentrations of the isoflavone genistein slow the spread of breast-cancer cells but low concentrations of genistein encourage tumor growth. Still, the amounts of genistein studied were higher than anyone would actually eat. Studies are also looking at how soy affects people of different ethnicities, how isoflavones interact with estrogen receptors, and how the interaction is affected by estrogen levels in the body.

Enjoy some soy

At most, soy’s effect on breast cancer risk is neutral, or small. It’s probably a combination of lifestyle factors (for example, exercising daily, limiting alcohol, not smoking) that all work together to lower risk. Also, people who depend on soy for protein are probably eating a healthy diet.

I’m not trying to be confusing by telling you about all these conflicting results. I just want you to know why doctors are still debating the soy question.

I feel comfortable recommending moderate amounts of soy foods as part of a balanced diet for healthy women and breast cancer survivors. This means two to three ½-cup servings of soy per day, similar to a Japanese diet.

That said, it’s always best to follow the Precautionary Principle:

  • Until the soy question becomes clearer, eating soy or increasing the amount of soy you eat is not a proven strategy to reduce your risk of breast cancer or lower your risk of recurrence.
  • Eliminating all soy from your diet “just to be sure” is drastic, hard to do, and is unlikely to give you any extra protection against breast cancer.

But we recommend that you:

  • Avoid highly concentrated soy products or protein supplements (they come in powders and capsules).
  • Avoid hidden soy, found in many packaged foods in various forms (protein isolate and soybean oil). Real whole foods provide the best nutrients. Packaged foods may affect your body differently than whole soy. Eating hidden soy may mean that you’re eating more soy than you wanted to.
  • Stick to certified organic soy foods. More than 90% of conventional soybeans come from genetically modified seeds. So far, no research shows that genetically modified foods affect cancer risk or cause long-term health problems. But many crops such as soy are engineered to withstand spraying with certain pesticides, and pesticide residues can cause unhealthy cell changes. Certified organic products don’t use genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Special circumstances call for extra precautions. Of course, anyone with soy allergies should avoid soy. Limit how much soy you eat if you’re being treated for low thyroid hormone levels, and don’t take your medicine with soy foods. And if you have problems absorbing minerals, you may want to avoid soy because compounds in soy called phytates can slow or block absorption of important nutrients including iron, calcium, and zinc.

(Article Excerpt and Image from Breastcancer.org)   – See more at: http://community.breastcancer.org/livegreen/the-soy-question-safe-to-eat/.

Study Says Breast Cancer Prevention Must Begin Early in Life

Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer — being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example — can’t be changed. Other factors — being overweight, lack of exercise, eating unhealthy food — can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

A paper strongly suggests that breast cancer prevention should start early in life because nearly 25% of breast cancers are diagnosed in women younger than age 50 in developed countries.

The paper was published online on July 22, 2015 by the journal npj Breast Cancer. Read “Preventing breast cancer now by acting on what we already know.”

The lead author of the paper is Graham Colditz, M.D., an internationally known epidemiologist and public health expert who is a member of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board. He is the director of Prevention and Control at the Siteman Cancer Center at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.

In the paper, Dr. Colditz and his colleague Kari Bohlke describe the factors that most commonly influence breast cancer risk:

  • increased exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone
  • changes in women’s height growth rate and reproductive patterns
  • lifestyle changes, including diet, that come about because of economic development

The researchers also quote breast cancer prevention task force reports urging people to focus on risk factors during specific time periods in a woman’s life:

  • in childhood, before and during breast development
  • in young adulthood/adulthood before the breasts fully mature with the birth of a woman’s first child

Research has shown that girls who eat a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet that contains few vegetables and fruits and get little or no exercise/physical activity are more likely to start having their periods earlier. This means that the body starts producing more estrogen — so girls who start menstruating earlier are exposed to more estrogen over their lifetimes. We know that estrogen can make breast cancer develop and grow. Girls who eat more vegetables and whole grains are more likely to start their periods later, which means they’re exposed to relatively less estrogen over their lifetimes.

“Timing of prevention therefore matters,” the researchers wrote. “Because 22% of breast cancer is diagnosed in premenopausal women and is often more aggressive than cancers diagnosed in postmenopausal women, it makes sense to start prevention early in life when it can have maximum impact. For example, prevention begun in childhood and continuing through adolescence and early adult years can reduce development of premalignant or intermediate lesions that are on the pathway to breast cancer.”

They recommend the following strategies to reduce breast cancer risk and have calculated how much of a difference each would make in the number of cases diagnosed in the United States:

  • Eat a diet full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in childhood and continue eating that way throughout life: would prevent 3% of breast cancers
  • Be physically active as a child and continue exercising throughout life: would prevent 11% of breast cancers
  • Avoid gaining weight as you age: would prevent 25-32% of breast cancers
  • If you do gain weight as you age, lose about 10% of your body weight (and keep it off) after menopause: would prevent 25% of breast cancers
  • Limit or avoid alcohol between your first period and the birth of your first child: would prevent 3% of breast cancers
  • Limit or avoid alcohol throughout life: would prevent 3% of breast cancers
  • Avoid using medicines such hormone replacement therapy that contains estrogen and progesterone: would prevent 3% of breast cancers
  • Women at high-risk for breast cancer because of family history or an abnormal gene should consider taking preventive medicine such as tamoxifen or Evista (chemical name: raloxifene): would prevent 11% of breast cancers

Dr. Colditz urges communities, policy makers, schools, and parents to talk to girls about prevention strategies. Exercising, eating healthy food, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol all help reduce the risk of breast cancer. If these strategies start in girlhood, before the breasts begin to develop, breast cancer risk can be reduced even more than if these healthy behaviors start in adulthood.

“If we act and act now, shifting the balance and focus to earlier life, supported by additional resources devoted to implementing prevention, bringing messages and bolstering lifestyle and risk-reduction behaviors during the critical time points in life, we stand a good chance of significantly reducing the burden of breast cancer now and for future generations,” he wrote.

Doing all that you can do to keep your breast cancer risk as low as it can be makes good sense. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol are steps you can take to control several risk factors. You can learn much more about breast cancer risk and other steps you can take to minimize your risk in the Breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section.

(Article Excerpt and Image from Breastcancer.org)   – See more at: http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/prevention-must-begin-early-in-life

5 Rarely Discussed Breast Cancer Early Warning Signs

Breast-Cancer-Early-Warning-Signs-1-new

As an informed, health-savvy individual, you probably want to know what you need to look for right now in order to nip breast cancer in the bud. Instead of trying to deal with it after you’ve already been diagnosed – which hopefully will never happen! We’ve compiled a list of five early warning breast cancer signs, most of which are rarely talked about in the media, that you can use in your preventative arsenal to stay ahead of the game.

Don’t Just Look for Lumps

The most common way that conventional doctors look for breast cancer in women is to identify lumps in the breast. They most often do this with mammogram x-rays. This offer physicians a basic roadmap for navigating the terrain of breast tissue, allowing them to pinpoint any lumps, masses, or other questionable abnormalities that might point to a malignancy.

But mammograms can be a potential cause of cancer due to the ionizing radiation they send into breast tissue. They also aren’t accurate 100 percent of the time, despite what you may have been told. Lumps and masses in breast tissue can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful), and mammograms don’t differentiate between the two. This often leads to false diagnoses and unnecessary treatments with chemotherapy and radiation.

A better option, if you choose to undergo routine cancer screenings, is thermography. This unique screening method allows doctors to not only look for unusual lumps or growths, but also identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place within the breast tissue. This is a much stronger and more accurate indicator that breast cancer may be present.

Angiogenesis is a fancy way of saying new blood vessel growth, which may indicate that a woman’s body is trying to build a new supply system for blood to be delivered to developing breast tumors. Doctors who specialize in examining thermography images will be able to identify whether or not angiogenesis is taking place, and suggest a proper course of action.

Hormones and Cellular Health

A lot of health experts like to talk about breast cancer as something that results from “bad genetics,” being passed down from mothers to their daughters. This implies that breast cancer can’t be avoided and occurs as an unfortunate “luck of the draw” type scenario. And depending on the type of breast cancer they’re talking about, there may be some merit to this popular theory.

But most types of breast cancer are a result of environment, diet, and lifestyle, all of which dictate how a woman’s endocrine system produces and balances hormones. In other words, hormone imbalance plays a much greater role in determining breast cancer risk than many people think. Thermography can help qualified physicians determine whether or not a woman has an elevated breast cancer risk due to this often overlooked early indicator.

Learn Your Body’s Natural Rhythms

Every woman’s body has a unique ebb and flow, and getting in tune with your own personal rhythm is invaluable for staying healthy. Paying close attention to any unusual changes that might be occurring, especially within breast tissue, is critical to avoid breast cancer.

If you feel any unusual aches or pains in your breast, including occasional throbbing, pain, or even fluctuating discomfort, talk to your doctor. Many women assume that only an isolated lump with localized pain suggests the presence of breast cancer. The truth is that breast cancer can manifest as “scattered, seed-like” tumors that, in some cases, spread like small tentacles throughout breast tissue.

Experts from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston warn that breast cancer often shows up without the classic lump, showing symptoms such as swelling and irritation, dimpling, nipple discharge beyond normal lactation, nipple inversion, and/or a thickening and reddening of skin around the nipple.1

“There are breast cancers that present as half a lump or there may be no lump at all,” says Dr. Naoto Ueno, chief of Translational Breast Cancer Research at the Center, as quoted by CBS News. “It could just be a strange-looking skin appearance or skin being red or dimpled.”

Just be sure to look for patterns of change or any new and unusual symptoms that occur outside the norm. Occasional pain may not be indicative of breast cancer, but persistent itching, for instance, could point to fluid buildup, poor lymph function, or your body trying to create new blood vessels for breast tumors.

Can Back Pain Indicate Breast Tumor Development?1

Upper back pain that feels as though it’s coming from deep within the bones may be an early sign of breast cancer – but don’t assume that every occasional bout of soreness or back pain means you’re becoming the next statistic! Chronic back pain that doesn’t relent with stretching, chiropractic or other means may be a sign that breast cancer tumors are forming.

Sometimes when tumors are developing in a woman’s breast, they put pressure on the ribs and spine causing new found and persistent pain. You need to be aware of any changes that occur in your spinal column, upper back, and eve2n neck. Talk to your doctor if you feel as though the pain you’re experiencing is unusually pronounced and marked by pressure from a possible internal growth.

Nutrient Deficiency and Cancer

If you’re not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet, including things like vitamin D and iodine, your risk of developing breast cancer is already elevated. Nutrient deficiency is endemic in the West. Many people don’t realize that what they’re not eating is increasingly their likelihood of developing chronic health conditions such as breast cancer.1

Nearly 75 percent of the adult “healthy” population is deficient in iodine, which has been shown to help ward off cancer cells in the breast and elsewhere throughout the body. Vitamin D is another risk factor in breast cancer. A 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that low vitamin D levels are a hallmark in women with breast cancer. Other studies show similar findings.

A good rule of thumb in today’s nutrient-depleted world is to supplement with these and other cancer-fighting nutrients such as selenium and zinc. You may also wish to consult with a trained naturopath or integrative doctor. They can help you identify any specific nutrient deficiencies you might have and help you optimize your unique biological “terrain” for best breast cancer prevention.

(Article Excerpt and Image from TheTruthAboutCancer.com), article by:  Posted by:  Ty Bolinger  – See more at: http://thetruthaboutcancer.com/5-early-warning-breast-cancer-signs/

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