The Right Lifestyle for Beating Breast Cancer

Are you having a relaxing time on a beach enjoying the sun in moderation? Do you follow a Mediterranean diet and eat plenty of fish, vegetables and fruit? Are you a teetotalling non-smoker? If so, then you are on the right track to preventing the onset of breast cancer, says cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Paul Erasmus. Adopting the correct lifestyle is more important than you think in the fight against breast cancer.

Of course, the opposite is also true: If you are eating a lot of meat and processed foods, consume too much alcohol, are overweight and a smoker, you are on the right path to developing breast cancer.

Although the risk of developing breast cancer increases as women become older, there are lifestyle and genetic factors – and a combination of the two – that increase your risk for breast cancer. Unfortunately, losing a breast has repeat traumatic and psychological consequences as women often consider it to be an onslaught on their femininity.
Most women who are experiencing menopause see a yearly mammogram as their contribution to preventing breast cancer. However, some postpone the examination because it is an uncomfortable experience. For this reason, some women prefer to self-examine their breasts.

It is worth considering that by the time a tumour is felt or seen on a mammogram it has already been growing for eight years. Tumour cells begin with just one cell that starts growing abnormally. Based on the prevailing research, cancer cells double in number every 90 days. Breast thermography is a less invasive examination and can identify areas in the breast where there is abnormally high blood or vascular activity. We know that nutrients are needed to accelerate the growth in cancerous cells, and these nutrients are delivered via existing blood vessels, which then leads to the creation of additional blood vessels.

Also worth noting is that the results of mammograms are often operator-dependant and therefore open to interpretation. In fact, new studies have found mammograms to be far less effective than they were thought to be. However, there is no need to throw your hands up in the air in despair because there is a lot that you as a woman can do to prevent breast cancer just by adjusting your lifestyle. Lifestyle is the current buzzword in preventative medicine, and yet it is so simple and so true.

Changing Your Lifestyle
My first advice to you is to stop smoking if you are a smoker. Immediately! Minimise your intake of meat, dairy products, alcohol, sweets and fast foods, and make sure you consume more vegetables, fruit and fish. There is no question that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest one to follow. Also, enjoy your time on the beach in the sun – just don’t overdo it and make sure you wear sunblock.


How to Prevent Breast Cancer with the Help of Science


  1. Know your Vitamin D status. A blood test can determine your Vitamin D status. This vitamin has an effect on some 200 genes, and many of these regulate cell division (cancer cells usually grow rapidly), the maturation of cells (cancer cells are immature) and the natural termination of defective cells (cancer cells are resistant to natural destruction). Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and help you control your genes. In several studies of Vitamin D consumption, the risk of cancer was 60% lower.
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  3. You are what you eat. Epidemiological studies have shown that what we eat affects our risk of developing cancer. Women who eat red meat are at higher risk of getting breast cancer, and the same risk applies to men when it comes to prostate cancer. Studies done on postmenopausal women in China who followed a Western diet (with beef, pork and desserts) had a 60% greater chance of developing breast cancer. So, make an effort to consume more plant protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
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  5. Know your estrogen status.
  6. Many perimenopausal women – that is, women who are in the phase of their life just before menopause begins – are estrogen-dominant. This might be due to a number of factors, including ovarian dysfunction and prescribed estrogen.
  7.      Estrogen has three subfractions, namely estriol, estradiol and estrone, with the first one protecting against breast cancer. When estrogen is broken down by the liver, three byproducts are formed: 2-hydroxy estrone, 16-alpha hydroxy estrone and 4-hydroxy estrone. Studies show that women with 2-hydroxy estrone are less likely to develop breast cancer, while 16-alpha hydroxy estrone promotes breast cancer.
  8.       The cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and kale) have compounds called indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, that promote 2-hydroxy estrone while suppressing 16-alpha hydroxy estrone. For those who dislike these vegetables, an I3C supplement is available. Progesterone is another female hormone that protects against breast cancer. There needs to be a balance between progesterone and estrogen, and combination therapy is recommended when levels are low. Xenoestrogens like Premarin and other chemicals that act like estrogen can be broken down to the 4-hydroxy estrone pathway, which also promotes cancer.
  9.      Xenoestrogens are chemicals in daily use that act like estrogen and can cause breast and cancer of the female reproductive organs. They include non-organic meats and dairy products, unfiltered water, pesticides, laundry detergents, shampoo, tea-tree oil, lavender oil, sunflower oil, plastic utensils and containers, to name but a few.
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  11. Soy. Some medical and academic institutions believe that soy isoflavones act like estrogen and can cause strokes. Due to their unique structure, these isoflavones selectively modulate estrogen receptors. However, in a Japanese study of more than 21 000 women, these isoflavones reduced the risk of breast cancer by 54%, so make soy products part of your diet.
  12. Fruit. A compound called D-glucarate is found in fruit, but especially in grapefruit, apples and oranges. It protects against cancer-causing agents by removing them through the liver in a detoxification process.
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  14. Lignans. This is a group of chemicals found in plants that help alter estrogen metabolism, inhibit the vascular growth of cancer cells and make cancer cells destroy themselves. Sources include flaxseed, sesame seed, rye, barley, soy beans, cruciferous vegetables, apricots, strawberries and red wine.
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  16. Note that green tea can reduce tumour growth by 58%; curcumin reduces the vascular formation of cancer cells (in other words, it cuts off the blood supply to the cancer growth); Resveratrol alters cancer-cell genes and promotes the death of cancer cells; Selenium reduces blood supply to the cancer growth; and Omega 3 has as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effect while stabilising cell membranes. The hormone melatonin is manufactured in the pineal gland in the brain and is influenced by your day-night rhythm. There is a higher incidence of breast cancer in night-shift workers. Melatonin is a good supplement to take to promote a better sleeping habit.
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  18. Genes. There is an abnormal gene known as BRACI that runs in some families, and this gene can be found in 5% of breast cancer patients. Women who inherit this gene have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer, but this gene can be detected and precautions taken.