Breast Cancer: Information, Research, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Breast Cancer / Breast Cysts



Index of Diseases / Health Conditions ... Medicinal Foods, Herbs, Spices & Household Items

The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.



Relevant Resources

Breast Cancer: Nutrition to Prevent and/or Support the Breast Cancer Patient


Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2005, about 211,240 women were diagnosed with breast cancer — and 40,410 died from the disease.


Did you know ...

Bras causing breast cancer ...

Dr. Michael Schacter, M.D. stated in his article, The Prevention and Complementary Treatment of Breast Cancer: "Over 85 percent of the lymph fluid flowing from the breast drains to the armpit lymph nodes. Most of the rest drains to the nodes along the breast bone. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow. The nature of the bra, the tightness, and the length of time worn, will all influence the degree of blockage of lymphatic drainage. Thus, wearing a bra might contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage, so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast."

Medical anthropologists Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer -- authors of Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras -- conducted a study of over 4,000 women, and found that women who do not wear bras have a much lower risk of breast cancer.

Their findings are that ...

  • women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer
  • women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day, but not to bed, had a 1 out of 7 risk
  • women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 52 risk
  • women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer

The Importance of Vitamin D: Current government recommendations for Vitamin D intake is 400 or 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D. However, researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and Creighton University (CU) School of Medicine found that when higher doses of vitamin D were taken daily, the risks associated with developing several major diseases are reduced by about half. Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, stated as follows: "We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4000-8000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases -- breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes."


Breast Cancer:


The Importance of Self-examinations:

Regular Breast Exam:

  • Use both hands on each breast -- and move your fingers up and down, instead of in a circle. That way you'll cover the entire breast.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) doesn't cause lumps, so it's usually not spotted by mammograms or ultrasounds. This type of breast cancer is deadlier than other types, and it's easily detectable by YOU.

  • The lifesaving secret: Please, once a week, just look in the mirror. A swollen, red, warm or unusually tender breast can indicate inflammatory breast cancer. See your doctor! It may be a simple infection, but if it doesn't heal after 7 days of treatment, arrange for a skin biopsy to check for IBC.


Breast Cancers: Real Questions & Real AnswersLeading breast cancer drug may raise your death risk

Tamoxifen can indeed reduce breast cancer occurrence in certain high-risk women. It hikes your risk for blood clots, stroke and uterine cancer.
In a recent British study, breast cancer patients who switched from tamoxifen to an aromatase inhibitor (AI) had a much lower death risk -- and were less likely to have the cancer spread. In fact, indications are that aromatase inhibitors are up to 44% more effective for many women over 40.


Adjuvant treatment for breast cancer increased leukemia risk

Reported in:: Journal of Clinical Oncology, Volume 18:2836-2842, (August) 2000

Patients with breast cancer who are treated with chemotherapy, particularly regimens containing melphalan, are at increased risk of secondary leukemia as documented in Cancer Research 1990 May 1;50(9):2741-6. (Note: With newer chemotherapy agents, such as Taxol, the risk of acute leukemia is unknown and warrants further investigation).

Between 1982 and 1996, 3093 women who underwent surgery for breast cancer were evaluated. Approximately 57% of patients received radiotherapy alone and 31% had combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Results

  • Ten women were diagnosed with acute leukemia by the end of 1998.
  • In women who received radiotherapy without chemotherapy, the risk of leukemia was similar to that of the general population.
  • In women who were treated with combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the risk of leukemia was multiplied by 28 over the general population.
  • In women ages 64 and younger, chemotherapy with mitoxantrone was significantly associated with an increased risk of leukemia.

Walk yourself to good health ...

Dr. Michelle Holmes of Harvard Medical School recently studied 2,987 women with breast cancer -- and found that women who simply walked just 3 hours a week cut their death risk by 50%. Women with advanced breast cancer benefited even more.



COMMENTARY: Breast Cancer's Environmental Legacy
How Every Day Toxins Threaten Women's Health
http://www.emagazine.com/view/?4063

By Dr. Garrett Wdowin

Breast cancer rates have nearly tripled in the U.S. over the past 60 years.
© National Breast Cancer Research Institute

In 2005 it was estimated that 211,240 American women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,410 women died from the disease. Breast cancer rates have nearly tripled in the United States over the last 60 years making it the second most common cancer in women. The lifetime risk for a woman to develop breast cancer in 1940 was 1 in 22. In 2006 it was up to 1 in 8, and has continued to rise. The probability of a woman contracting any form of cancer in the United States is an astonishing 1 in 3.

Similar increases can be seen in "developed" countries such as England, Japan, and Denmark. Within the European Union a woman dies of breast cancer every 7.5 minutes making it the number one killer of women between the ages of 34 and 54. These are "developed" nations, with increased screening through mammograms, breast exams, and regular doctor visits. What explains this drastic increase?

The genetic component of breast cancer (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2) plays an important role, yet how much of the recent increase in breast cancer does genetics actually account for? Ponder this: According to Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, "Not more than 10% of human breast cancers can be linked directly to germline mutations" and the 2006 Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment reports that "There is no history of breast cancer among female relatives in over 75% of patients." New research now points out that the BRCA-1gene isn't all negative and it actually plays a role in DNA repair, protecting a woman from breast cancer. Therefore, the recent climb in breast cancer rates cannot be solely explained by genetics.

A fact worth exploring in Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (2005) is "the risk [of breast cancer] is higher among women born after 1940, presumably due to promotional effects of hormonal factors." Breast tissue is estrogen-dependent, this is why the breasts will become larger when a woman takes birth control pills or becomes pregnant. Besides estrogens the body makes there is also a substantial number of estrogen mimicking, disrupting and promoting substances, both natural and manmade, that we are exposed to in our environment every day. This poses a significant question: are environmental toxins acting on the breast tissue and increasing your risk of cancer? A plausible answer is given by Colbom et. al. "because total estrogen exposure is the single most important risk factor for breast cancer, estrogenic chemicals, toxins and compounds, which would add to this lifelong exposure, are an obvious suspect when searching for the cause of rising rates (of breast cancer) over the past half century." Although no firm data correlation exists across all breast cancer cases it is certainly more than plausible that estrogen and estrogen like substances are contributing to the increase in these cancers in the modern era.


Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, warned about toxic chemical exposures in the 1960s.
© Manhattan Rare Books

History will show us that the idea of industrial and environmental toxins inducing cancer is not a new one. We have known for over a hundred years that manmade chemicals can cause cancer. Way back in 1895 aniline dyes, made from coal tar, were proven to cause bladder cancer. Later, during the environmental movements of the 1960s, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. In this book she exposed the known and proposed health hazards of the pesticide DDT while also warning us about many other chemicals that surround us every day. Since the writing of the book, research has mounted in support of her claims.

Between 1938 and 1971, an estimated 5 to 10 million pregnant women in the United States were encouraged to take DES (Diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic estrogen, which was originally prescribed by doctors for women who were at risk for miscarriage. Not coincidentally, in 1970, a rare cancer called Clear Cell Adenocarcinoma (CCA) began to show up in unprecedented numbers of young women. Studies were performed to answer the rising number of questions and in 1971 and 1972 DES was identified as a cause of this cancer in young women who had been exposed to DES in the womb. Researchers have also found that DES daughters are 40 times more likely to develop cancer of the vagina and cervix than women who were not exposed to the drug. We know estrogenic compounds can cause and promote cancer.

Medical research is mounting a huge collection of evidence showing that our environment, and the toxins we are all exposed to, increases the likelihood of breast cancer and cancer in general. Studies show that hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals can act together and that small, seemingly insignificant quantities of individual chemicals can have major cumulative effects on the body. Multiple estrogenic chemicals can collect in the body and act together to produce unknown effects, even when each individual component is believed to be within the considered "safe zone" set by the EPA. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals capable of disrupting the normal functioning of the endocrine system, and may pose a growing threat to human and wildlife health. These compounds can modulate both the endocrine and immune systems resulting in alteration of homeostasis, reproduction, development and behavior. The endocrine and reproductive effects of these chemicals are believed to be due to their ability to: (1) mimic the effect of endogenous (produced in the body) hormones, (2) antagonize the effect of endogenous hormones, (3) disrupt the synthesis and metabolism of endogenous hormones, and (4) disrupt the synthesis and metabolism of hormone receptors.


Synthetic estrogen taken between 1938 and 1971 led to a wave of young women with a rare form of cancer.
© Getty Images

From heavy metals to industrial accidents to conventional medicine, your body is being exposed to and storing these endocrine disruptors. Studies have shown the heavy metal cadmium (Cd) mimics the effects of estradiol in estrogen-responsive breast cancer cell lines. Cadmium is found in cigarette smoke, certain art supplies, and is usually a component of air pollution produced by traffic. A study of 981 Italian women who were exposed to dioxin, from an industrial explosion in 1976, showed a significantly increased risk of breast cancer when evaluated. Antibiotics have been instrumental in our health, in certain situations, yet when over prescribed they stress the liver, create dysbiosis (imbalance of bowel flora) and leave residues or metabolites that can add to the toxic mixture in your body. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, "When they analyzed all the information they were able to gather, the researchers found that the more antibiotics women used, the greater their breast cancer risk was."

With all of this information and research helping us to understand how our environment can be increasing our risk of breast cancer, among other diseases, it seems only logical to take steps to protect your loved ones and ourselves. The environmental medicine movement is picking up momentum and people are beginning to understand that we really do live in a toxic world. "The world that surrounds us; including the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink; is full of toxins. Many of these toxins are known carcinogens (cancer causing), and the vast majority have never been studied for their effects on humans," says the site breastcancer.org. The effects on the body are complex and are influenced by many factors, including the route and site of exposure (skin, oral, injection, inhalation etc), the timing, the duration and frequency of exposure, and the susceptibility of the individual exposed. Although, some of the pieces are still unclear, we do know that there are many chemicals in our environment that cause cancer. We also know that everyone has these toxins, to some degree, stored in their body. "Our findings revealed that under the current regulatory system, toxic chemicals from consumer products and industrial pollution contaminate each of us and threaten our health," writes Erika Schreder of the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition.

We need to start the movement of prevention in the breast cancer world, and I don't mean things like preventive mastectomies. Find a physician who is trained in preventative medicine because breast exams and mammograms only detect, they do not prevent breast cancer. Detection without prevention is like standing on the train tracks, watching a train roll towards you, and being content that after you get hit the medical community will try to put you back together. When possible, use prevention, and step off the tracks.

DR. GARRETT WDOWIN practices naturopathic medicine in Arizona.

CONTACTS: Breastcancer.org; Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition




About Mammography (The Risks, Benefits & Alternatives)



Breast Cancer: Get me through this!Breast Cancer Nutrition

  • A plant-based diet high in cancer-fighting lignans may be associated with improved survival among postmenopausal women with breast cancer, according to a study presented by Susan E. McCann, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), April 12-16, in San Diego, CA.

    Lignans are plant compounds found in seeds, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In laboratory studies, lignans have been shown to impact hormone levels and tumor growth. Researchers from Roswell Park and the University at Buffalo evaluated the dietary lignan intakes of 1,122 women diagnosed with breast cancer who participated in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer Study (WEB Study) between 1996 and 2001. Lignan intake was calculated based on responses to a questionnaire that charted intake of over 100 foods.

    The study found that dietary lignan intake had no relevance among premenopausal women with breast cancer. However, in postmenopausal women, those with a high lignan intake were 70% less likely to die from breast cancer.

    “This study suggests that certain fruits and vegetables may offer more protection than others. Postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer who reported high intakes of lignans, which in this study were supplied mostly by dark bread, peaches, broccoli, oranges, winter squash, strawberries, coffee and tea, had a statistically significant reduction in death rates,” said Dr. McCann.

  • Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables:

    Concentrate on anticancer cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, as well as high-antioxidant berries. Cauliflower, for example, is loaded with nutrients that are essential for keeping the immune system strong. One study found that eating just four servings of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower, a week slashed the risk of dying from ANY medical cause by 26%! (From "The Doctors Book of Food Remedies," page 149).

    • Click here for information on organic foods -- a listing of the most and the least contaminated food items, as well as handling tips.
  • A special group of vegetables called cruciferous vegetables have excellent cancer fighting properties.
    • Research suggests that these cruciferous vegetables contain a kind of phytochemical known as isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens. They work by preventing the transformation of normal healthy cells into cancerous cells. Some examples of cruciferous vegetables are:
      • Arugula, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Collard greens, Daikon, Kale, Kohlrab,i Mustard greens, Radishes, Rutabaga, Turnips, Watercress

  • Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which is a natural chemical that stimulate our bodies to produce enzymes and destroy carcinogens. This substance is particularly rich in broccoli sprouts and about 20 to 50 times richer in mature broccoli.
  • Many cruciferous vegetables also contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol. This compound is said to reduce the risk of hormone dependent cancers such as prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.

  • Green Tea:
    Ppowerful antioxidants shown to function as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. Women who drink six to 10 cups of green tea per day lower their risk of breast cancer.
  • Turmeric:

    The No. 1 anticancer spice and a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Add 1/4 teaspoon at the end of cooking to almost any food.

  • Ginger:

    Ginger possesses two cancer-inhibiting compounds, 6-gingerol and 6-paradol, and it lends a warm, pungent twist to dishes, especially fish (click here to find the best and the worst fish to eat) . For the most benefit, choose fresh over pickled whenever possible; simply peel, shred, and mince the root into foods

    *Ginger can decrease blood clotting and should not be taken by people with bleeding disorders.

  • Organic whole grain:

    Whole grains are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, trace minerals, fiber and lignants.

    Rye is a rich source of lignans, a class of phytoestrogens (plant compounds that help protect against the harmful effects of excess estrogen). Whole Rye protects against heart disease and hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate malignancies

  • Max Gerson: The Gerson TherapyRaw Food: Max Gerson, M.D.  Dr. Gerson used a mostly raw food and fresh vegetable juice diet for cancer patients with remarkably good results. He also used substantial quantities of vitamin supplements. His entire program is set forth in a tremendously valuable book entitled The Gerson Therapy, by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker (2001) NY: Kensington Publishing Corp. (featured to the right)


  • Immune-enhancing Maitake Mushrooms
  • Flaxseeds:
  • Health-promoting fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from two to three tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily. Flax Seeds: A study involving 50 women with breast cancer showed that 25 women who were fed with 25g of milled flax daily before surgery had slower-growing tumors than the other 25 women who were not fed milled flax at all.

  • Seaweed:
  • Wakame is high in iodine, which may be more effective at killing cancer cells than many common chemotherapy drugs.

    Spirulina has strong anti-cancer properties. Tests have discovered that Spirulina supercharges the immune system for better disease resistance and increased fertility. Studies also indicated that it increases metabolic rate, promotes the beneficial types of digestive tract flora, has strong anti-cancer and anti-viral properties, reduces serum cholesterol, protects against kidney damage and has radio protective effects. The National Cancer Institute has announced that sulfolipids in spirulina are remarkably active against HIV. You can buy it in pill form or as a powder.

  • Other Cancer-fighting Foods:

    • Apples: Rui Hai Liu, Associate Professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, isolated ne cancer-fighting compounds - triterpenoids - in 230 pounds of apple peel and tested their efficacy in combating cancer-cell growth in the lab. "They all show very potent anticancer activities and should be studied further," Liu says. According to previous research at Cornell, whole apples also possess cancer-fighting flavenoids and phenolic acids, but with this new evidence of the power of the peel, it's more important than ever to shop for organic applies -- because more pesticide residues exist on the peel.
    • Nuts are highly valued for its anti-cancer and heart-protective properties.They aid in insulating and storing food for the body and are necessary for the normal utilization of the fat-soluble vitamins.
    • Aloe vera has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties as well as lowering high cholesterol, and boosting oxygenation of the blood.
    • Garlic: The National Cancer Institute is currently researching it for its anti-tumor properties.
    • Brown Rice: Anti-diarrheal and contain anti-cancer protease inhibitors.
    • Beans: High in fiber, reduces cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels. Bean consumption has been linked to lower cancer rates.
    • Cod Liver Oil
    • Apples (breast and colon cancer)
    • Beet Juice and Powdered Form: Early research in Hungary indicated that beet juice and its powdered form slowed the development of tumors. Heinerman reports that Alexander Ferenczi, M.D., observed beets aiding cancer patients and performed studies that indicated that beets may help animals fight cancer
    • Cranberries (lung, cervical, prostate, breast and leukemia cancer cells)
    • Eggs (breast cancer)
    • Fish (breast cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) - click here to find the best and the worst fish to eat ... Alternatively: Fish Oil Supplements (i.e. Cod Liver Oil - some lemon-flavored cod liver oils are pleasant to take)
    • Flaxseed
    • Grapes (prostate, lung, liver and breast cancer)
    • Lemons & Limes (cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon)
    • Mushrooms ... Mustard Greens
    • Olive Oil (instead of other oils - breast & colon cancer)
    • Oranges (protection against skin, lung, breast, colon, stomach and mouth cancers)


Cancer-fighting Supplements:

  • Vitamin D: Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., cancer prevention specialist at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D, particularly in countries north of the equator.
  • Iodine: Experimental findings showing the ability of iodine or iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit breast tumour development is supported by the relatively low rate of breast cancer in Japanese women who consume a diet containing iodine-rich seaweed. (Source: pubmed: The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer; Peter PA Smyth - http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=314438)
    • According to Dr. Brownstein, iodine can cause tumors to shrink. He describes Joan's story who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. Joan refused conventional therapy and found a holistic doctor who recommended that she take 2 mg/day of iodine in addition to a regimen of vitamins and minerals. Over the next 10 years, she felt well. Unfortunately, the tumor metastasized in 2005. After finding out more information about iodine, Joan got a prescription for a higher-dose form of iodine. After only six weeks of taking the higher iodine dose, Joan's PET scan showed that all of the existing tumors were disintegrating.
  • Beta-carotene:

    This carotenoid may decrease treatment side effects and improve your chance of surviving cancer. Ideally you want to get beta-carotene from yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, which also contain thousands of bioflavonoids and numerous other carotenoids -- but supplemental beta-carotene still benefits you, too. Dosage: 20 to 30 mg daily, taken with meals in divided dosages, or eat as many fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables as your digestive system tolerates.

  • A World Without Cancer - The Story Of Vitamin B17 57 Minutes

    Here is the full text:

    G. Edward Griffin marshals the evidence that cancer is a deficiency disease - like scurvy or pellagra - aggravated by ... all » the lack of an essential food compound in modern man's diet. That substance is vitamin B17. In its purified form developed for cancer therapy, it is known as Laetrile.

    Why has orthodox medicine waged war against this non-drug approach? The author contends that the answer is to be found, not in science, but in politics - and is based upon the hidden economic and power agenda of those who dominate the medical establishment.

    With billions of dollars spent each year on research, with other billions taken in on the sale of cancer-related drugs, and with fund-raising at an all-time high, there are now more people making a living from cancer than dying from it. If the solution should be found in a simple vitamin, this gigantic industry could be wiped out over night. The result is that the politics of cancer therapy is more complicated than the science.

  • Selenium:

    A daily supplement of 200 microgram of selenium, has been shown in a large placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study -- the most prestigious type of scientific study of nutrients and drugs -- to cut the death rate from cancer in half.

    Specifically, a large group of people who were given each day a yeast tablet enriched with 200 micrograms (mcg) of selenium had only half the number of deaths from cancer over a seven year period as a similarly large control group who were given a daily yeast tablet containing no selenium.

    Yeast tablets enriched with 200 mcg of selenium are readily available at pharmacies as well as health stores across the U.S. for about $5 or so for a bottle of 50 to 100 tablets -- only 10 cents or less per day.

    The results of this dramatic study were published in the medical profession's own journal: The Journal of the American Medical Association. Nevertheless, most doctors pay no attention to the results. Selenium (at 10 cents per day or less) has been shown in a large clinical study to cut the death rate from cancer in half and nobody tells the public about it.

  • Coenzyme Q10:

    • Essential for the production of energy in cells, it may help contain or inhibit tumor growth.

  • Folate for Breast Health:

    • Postmenopausal women who eat foods high in folate, such as leafy greens and legumes, like chickpeas and lentils, have a lower risk of breast cancer. (Source: "High Folate Intake as Associated with Lower Breast Cancer Incidence in Postmenopausal Women ..." by U. Ericson et al, Am J. Clin. Nutr. 8/07).
  • Other Cancer-fighting Supplements:


Chemotherapy


Selenium Cuts Death Rate from Cancer in Half!


Could it be that easy to cure cancer?




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