As the leading cause of cancer in women, breast cancer awareness has become a national movement. October is the only time of the year you will find grown men wearing pink T-shirts or pink bands proclaiming “I Love Breasts” around their wrists. Countless numbers of individuals and non-profit organizations, including the well-known Susan G. Komen Foundation, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars toward breast cancer awareness and the “Think Pink” campaign. But unfortunately, the financial contributions only help keep the movement alive without providing truthful education about prevention or protection.
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer, some of which are under our direct control and others that are not. One of the known risks is the exposure to environmental or exogenous toxins. These can come from an almost unlimited number of sources making them difficult to track down. But here are some of the most common sources of exposure, some of which are significant but unfortunately, we may not be able to completely minimize our exposure.
- Skin care products (anti-aging, wrinkle-removing, youth-serums, etc.)
- Body care products (lotions, deodorant, shampoo, nail polish, makeup, etc.)
- Hair color
- ANYTHING with a smell (perfumes, colognes, scented candles, air fresheners, new cars, wood varnish, paint, etc.
- Plastics (water bottles, baggies, clam shell packaging at the grocery store, dishware, etc.)
- Cash register receipts
- Canned or bottled products
- The air we breathe
- Herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers
- The list goes on and on and on…..
Many of these toxic chemicals behave very similarly to your own hormones when taken into the body. Once inside, they will bind to specific hormone receptors and begin to dysregulate cellular function. The affected tissue is unable to maintain its normal state of health and instead becomes altered, causing it to behave abnormally. Over time, this can lead to errant cell behavior and ultimately, cancer.
Breast tissue is rich in hormone receptors, specifically for estrogen and progesterone. And if the chemicals have a molecular similarity to either of these hormones, they can find their way to the breast tissue, bind to those particular receptors and begin their chaotic activities. Additionally, breast tissue is the second most abundant repository for iodine. And when iodine is deficient in the diet, there are other related compounds that can bind to breast tissue receptors leading to dysfunction and disease.
So if the hormone disruptors or xenohormones are all around us, how can we ensure we are doing everything possible to protect ourselves? Fortunately, there are several very easy things that each one of us can do on a daily basis to ensure that breast tissue remains healthy and well-functioning.
Take inventory of your skin and/or body care products, making sure that you are using products that are organic or well rated for their health-promoting ingredients. Stay away from skin care that advertises with terms such as “age-defying,” “skin-rejuvenating,” “wrinkle-removing” or “anti-aging serum.” These are highly suspicious terms that most likely indicate the presence of added hormones. Avoid using anything with a scent including perfume, scented candles, laundry soap, dryer sheets, car air fresheners, etc. Minimize the use of plastics wherever possible. Try to eat as cleanly as possible, focusing on organic fats and produce as well as high-quality animal proteins.
And finally, the two nutrients that have been unequivocally shown to reduce breast cancer risk by OVER 50% are vitamin D and iodine. This is true for every single woman. Period. And not very many oncologists or PCP’s will tell their patients this well-kept secret!
The first thing to do is have your vitamin D tested to find out if you are indeed deficient. If you are, take a food-based vitamin D supplement up to 4,000 IU’s per day to allow your body to naturally convert and store sufficient amounts of this important vitamin. Optimal levels should be at or near 50 IU’s on a blood test.
As well, try to consume daily amounts of iodine, not to exceed 1-2mg/day. Seaweed, scallops or other fish are excellent sources. You can also provide iodine in a supplemental form however be sure to start slowly and increase as tolerated. Taking oral iodine as a tablet or liquid will displace stored bromine, fluorine and chlorine (often stored in breast tissue) and as these are eliminated, you may feel slightly fatigued or have a mild headache. If so, decrease the amount of iodine you are taking for a few weeks to allow your body to gradually eliminate these toxins. When you are ready, try increasing the iodine again until you can tolerate the increased dose.
It certainly goes without saying that your diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables, high-quality animal protein and ample amounts of organic saturated fats or other healthy oils. These will not only ensure your body has what it needs to function but will also begin the process of detoxification throughout your body. For more specialized support, you may want to find someone who is qualified to help you evaluate your overall hormonal status including the adrenal glands, sex hormones, thyroid and pituitary glands. Working with the right kind of practitioner can make the difference between a generalized supplement regime, selected based on recommendations from Dr. Google vs. one that is targeted and specific, focusing on restoring optimal health. Don’t take any chances when it comes to breast health. You are worth the investment!