Health Maintenance

Mamas On Bedrest: Help Stop Breast Cancer in Its Tracks

October 23rd, 2010

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While many women give little thought to breast health while pregnant, I have known several women who were actually diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant. I have shared some of their stories and resources for treatment in our resources section under Breast Cancer in Young Women.

Dr. Al Sears wrote a very informative and useful article called, Help Stop Breast Cancer in its Tracks,  on natural ways to help prevent breast cancer which appeared on Working Moms Only. I am reprinting the entire article here, but if you want more great information for working moms, Check out WorkingMomsOnly.com, a website by Mary Ellen Tribby and subscribe to her newsletter.

Help Stop Breast Cancer In Its Tracks

By Al Sears, MD

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I want to give you some natural ways to get the right nutrients to help stop breast cancer before it starts.

Better Than a Mammogram

Mammograms are the most common way to detect breast cancer. But, there’s been some controversy about how effective this prevention method really is.

In 2006, doctors in Boston introduced a new test for the detection of breast cancer. Rather than using radiation like in a mammogram, they take a urine sample.

Dr. Pories of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston shared the results of her latest study at a recent breast cancer symposium. Her team found that urinary levels of two biomarkers (MMP-9 and ADAM12) are reliable predictors of increased risk of breast cancer.

In her study, she compared levels of these markers in both women with breast cancer and women without. One hundred percent of the urine samples that tested positive for MMP-9 and ADAM12 belonged to women with breast cancer. This simple test may offer a safe, non-invasive way to accurately assess a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Women are Saying “No” to Drugs

When Tamoxifen was first introduced, many people thought it was the answer to preventing breast cancer. But, unofficial polls suggest that women don’t want the toxic and potentially dangerous drug to prevent breast cancer.

Why?

Well, this drug is known to have very dangerous side effects. This includes deadly blood clots and other types of cancer.

So when given the option, most women want to choose safer, more natural alternatives to help avoid breast cancer. Changing eating habits, exercising and other alternative therapies were common choices.

Exercise: The Best Way to Beat Breast Cancer

It’s a fact that exercise helps prevent cancer. And women who exercise consistently throughout their lives have a 20-30 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who don’t.

This is true for all women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Forget Carbs

Sugar feeds cancer cells … and makes them grow like wildfire. Cancer loves sugar.

And carbs turn into sugar in your body.

A 2004 study in Cancer Epidemiology followed the eating habits of a large group of women in Mexico. The risk of breast cancer was 220 percent higher in the women who ate the most carbs.1

So when you go to the grocery store, you’ll want to avoid:

  • Grains, including corn
  • Potatoes and other white foods, like white rice, sugar and salt
  • Processed foods
  • Drinks and foods that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup

Banish Breast Cancer with This Super Food

When I was growing up in Kentucky, my grandparents had a grove of walnut trees. So … I ate a lot of walnuts. My grandmother cooked with them, baked with them, and we ate them by the handful for snacks. She always said they were good for you. How right she was.

A study shows that eating walnuts could reduce your risk of breast cancer. With just a handful of nuts (2 ounces) a day, mice delayed the onset of cancerous tumors.2

You see, walnuts contain a trio of cancer fighters – phytosterols, omega-3s and flavonoids.

Phytosterols. Studies show that these nutrient compounds can inhibit tumors from forming in the breast and shrink them if they are already there.3

In addition to walnuts, you can find phytosterols in:

  • Legumes
  • Flax seed oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Brussels sprouts

Omega-3s. Omega-3s have a unique ability. They are able to get absorbed into cell membranes where they help cancer cells self-destruct. They reduce a inflammatory enzyme called COX 2, which promotes breast cancer.

Plus, they keep your body’s breast cancer genes healthy. When these genes function normally, they help repair DNA and prevent cancer from developing.4

You can get omega-3s in these foods:

  • Wild-caught salmon, anchovies, sardines
  • Flax seeds
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Almonds, pecans
  • Avocado
  • Sacha inchi oil
  • Olives/olive oil

Flavonoids. Walnuts also contain a flavonoid called ellagic acid. This powerful flavonoid inhibits the growth of cancer cells.5

Ellagic acid not only protects your healthy cells from free radical damage, but it also helps to detox would-be cancer-causing cells and helps prevent cancer cells from reproducing.

Other ellagic acid-rich foods are:

  • Berries (blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries)
  • Pecans
  • Pomegranates

Working all of these foods into your diet will help you protect your body from the dreaded “C” word. Still, walnuts are the only super food that offers all these cancer-fighting compounds in one.

To get the freshest, most nutritious walnuts, follow these tips:

  • If you’re buying walnuts in the shell, make sure the shells don’t have any defects – look for little wormholes. Give the shells a little shake. If they rattle when you shake them, they are probably old and over-dried.
  • Store shelled walnuts in an airtight package. You can store them up to about 6 months if you keep them in the refrigerator. Up to a year in the freezer.
  • If you prefer unshelled walnuts, look for a freshness date on the package. The high oil content makes them highly perishable. Heat and humidity will speed up the process. As with the shelled walnuts, keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and they will last for several months too. Longer in the freezer.

Aside from popping a handful of walnuts in your mouth, there are many ways to enjoy them. Sprinkle a handful on your salad or yogurt, or experiment with your favorite recipes. I like to add them to chicken salad or sauteed vegetables.

***

Dr. Al Sears, MD is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears’ Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor’s Heart Cure. His proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life can be found at www.alsearsmd.com. You’ll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.

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(1)Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention August 2004; Vol. 13, 1283-1289
(2)Fox, Maggie and Simao, Paul, “Want to reduce breast cancer risk? Eat walnuts,” Reuters.com 4/21/09
(3)Awad, A.B. et al, “ß-Sitosterol activates Fas signaling in human breast cancer cells,” Phytomedicine
(4)”Research Shows How Omega-3 Fats Prevent Breast Cancer,” The World’s Healthiest Foods
(5)Walnuts, WholehealthMND.com, LLC 2000