In light of breast cancer awareness month I’d like to talk a little bit about keeping your girls healthy and happy and cancer-free. The fact is that there are lots of simple things you can do to stay healthy and help prevent breast cancer. Simple changes can really add up – here are some places to start, taken from my book: DIY Health: For Women.
Natural Ways To Help Prevent Breast Cancer:
- Manage your estrogens – Make sure you are doing the things we’ve talked about to keep your estrogens under control and to keep them at a safe level. Don’t forget the basics like fiber and exercise that we talked about here – they go a long way.
- Don’t take extra estrogens if you’re high risk – if you have genetic risk or a family history of breast cancer than just don’t use birth control or HRT that adds estrogens into your system. That means no birth control pills, no implants, no shots, no patch. If you really need a birth control method that isn’t condoms, then consider an IUD – the Mirena IUD actually secretes a small amount of progesterone and so would be very balancing for a woman who normally has high estrogen. The copper IUD lasts longer (about 10 years for one IUD) but can cause heavy bleeding. Talk with your doctor to find a solution that is right for you.
- Help your Breast tissue – if you have dense breasts or are fibrocystic, start with iodine therapy and GLA (the good fats from evening primrose oil or borage oil). It’s really important to check with your doctor if you have thyroid problems before you start taking iodine. It should only take 3-4 months for your breast tissue to change and soften. After that you can just take iodine every now and then to maintain.
- Limit the estrogenic chemicals in your life – cut out the phthalates, the cleaning products, the pesticides and herbicides. All of these chemicals mimic estrogen in your body and so have the same potential cancer causing effects. Switch to organic when you can, especially in milk, dairy and eggs. If you’re high-risk then this is especially important but I believe every woman should protect herself and her children.
- Exercise – how many times do I need to say it?
- Breast self-exams – this is really just to make sure that no lumps pop up quickly – use circular motions to feel the whole area of breast tissue, including under your arms on both sides. Look for lumps or knots. Also make sure you look at your breasts in the mirror – dimpling, puckering or inverted nipples can indicate a problem – especially if it starts suddenly. Also watch for sores or ‘bug bites’ that don’t go away – it is much more rare but there is a form of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer that just looks like a sore or an itchy rash-like spot on the breast that doesn’t heal.
- Lose Weight – I know. I make it sound so simple. Remember the bottom line is that you need to use more calories than you eat. Every woman is different in the weight loss department, but eliminating your food allergies will be a tremendous help.
- Eat your veggies and cut down on the meats – a more plant-based diet helps to reduce your risk and protect your body from many types of cancers, including breast.
- Screening – mammograms are suggested for women over 40 and although there is some radiation exposure they also help with early detection so talk with your doctor about what is right for you. For women who are truly high risk having a thermogram, or thermal imaging, of the breasts done yearly can be extremely helpful. Thermal imaging will show problem areas far before you would be able to feel a lump or find anything on a mammogram, although if a spot shows up you will still need to get a mammogram to pinpoint the exact location. Thermal imaging essentially acts as an early warning system that shows you what to watch. It also gives you the opportunity to take more aggressive steps if something does show up to prevent it from growing into cancer.
Take care of your breasts ladies – it’s incredibly important. These days it seems like everyone knows and loves someone who has been touched by breast cancer. We all have mothers or aunts or sisters or friends who have faced this beast, but together we can help to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Make sure your friends know how to take care of themselves, raise your children doing breast self-exams and practicing good eating habits. Love your breasts ladies, it will help to keep you healthy.