Breast Cancer

The Breast Health Gene

A hot topic in the world of breast cancer research is resveratrol.  In the US alone there are 24 active clinical trials investigating the effects of resveratrol in a range of diseases including obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and several types of cancer.  The identification of therapeutic benefits from resveratrol is considered of such importance that it has attracted the attention of both medical universities and big pharmaceutical companies.  Professor Romagnolo and colleagues at the University of Arizona have discovered that resveratrol holds the potential to interfere with a key mechanism in the pathophysiology of some forms of breast cancer.

Prof Romagnolo’s team are assessing resveratrol’s action in helping prevent breast cancer.  Specifically in relation to the BRCA-1 gene which codes for a certain protein which is involved in DNA repair.  Reduced expression of the BRCA-1 gene is known to increase susceptibility to breast cancer. 

Through our diet we are exposed to a significant number of compounds that can activate impaired DNA and BRCA-1 type breast cancer.  These include dioxin-like compounds found in soil, air and drinking water.  Trials have shown that pre-treatment with resveratrol prevents the BRCA-1 modification from occurring.  Resveratrol has been shown to enable the gene to function properly allowing it to protect against tumour development. 

Unlike genetic mutations, epigenetic (environmental and lifestyle) changes are often preventable and reversible.  The western-style diet and lifestyle affords exposure to a variety of compounds that may result in silencing the BRCA-1 gene via this epigenetic mechanism.   In addition to resveratrol, there are numerous other herbal compounds which have been linked to the prevention of breast cancer.

Recent results from Cancer Research UK and the US JAMA reveal that more younger women are getting breast cancer.  Read about the contributors to increasing rates of breast cancer in younger women.

Our western lifestyle and environmental toxins have been indicated in the development of many disease states.  All the more reason to focus on prevention through diet, lifestyle and natural preventative medicine.

Cancer-protective nutrients

Diet is estimated to contribute to about one-third of preventable cancers – about the same amount as smoking.  Inadequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals might explain the epidemiological findings that people who eat only small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables have an increased risk of developing cancer.  Recent experimental evidence indicates that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to DNA damage. 

There is considerable research to show the affects of specific vitamins and minerals on the prevention as well as successful treatment of cancer.  However, as there are many different cancers, it would be unwise of me to list these nutrients.  Human nature being what it is, people are often prone to go out and buy a supplement without really understanding its action in the body, let alone having access to best quality products.  That is why it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified natural health practitioner and never self-prescribe!

However, I would like to focus on one aspect of our western diet which fuels some cancer cells.  Many cancer cells derive most of their energy from sugar (carbohydrates).  Think about the increase in cancer rates over the past forty or so years which coincides with the increase consumption of processed carbohydrates – cereals, breads, baked goods, biscuits, pastas, soft drinks, juices, as well as being ‘hidden’ in ready-made sauces, dressings, even baby formula.  Our sugar consumption has increased phenominally over the past years.  According to Dr Mercola

  • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!

So take a close look at your diet.  Is it not worth reducing processed foods and replacing these with fresh produce – organic whenever possible. 

Foods to avoid – if you have a sugar-feeding cancer

  • All cereals and grain products except for specific fibre supplements.  these include breads, cakes, biscuits, crackers, donuts, chips, bagels, pizza, rice dishes, pasta, rice puddings, muffins and pastries
  • Sugary items such as soft drinks (sugar-free contains aspartame so avoid this as well); fruit juices, honey, jam, sugar, lollies, chocolate, sherbet, milkshakes, fruitcakes, marshmallows, pancake syrup, muesli and jelly.
  • Potatoes are not allowed  – this includes sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yame or potato salads
  • Fruits to be avoided include apples, apple sauce, oranges, peaches, cantaloupe or rockmelon, kiwi fruit, bananas, mangoes, pears, plums, prunes, raisins, dates, pineapple, nectarines, grapes, melons and berries.

Foods* to eat include

  • Meats – fresh not deli meats including beef, veal, venison, lamb  [preferably organic]
  • Seafood – fresh tuna, salmon, cod, crab, prawns, oysters, perch, herrings, sardines, scallops, squid, mackerel  [ocean caught not farmed varieties]
  • All fowl – chicken, duck, goose, turkey, pheasant, quail
  • Vegetables – alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, avocado, bamboo shoots, broccoli, bok choi, cabbage, capers, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cucumbers, dill pickles, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, mushrooms, mustard greens, parsley, okra, garlic, green and red pepers, radishes, sorrel, spinach, silver beet, turnip, zucchini, tomato, watercress and artichoke
  • Beans – soya [organic, non GMO], kidney, haricot, split peas, butter beans, green beans and purple beans
  • Dairy products – refer to your Blood Type for best dairy; eggs [organic, free range]
  • Water – maintain filtered water intake at 40mls/kg body weight as hydration is essential.
  • Fruits – lemons, limes, loquat, fresh [organic] strawberries
  • Nuts & seeds – almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds [all in moderation]
  • Oils & fats – butter, coconut oil, linseed oil, olive oil, sesame oil, ghee, copha, lard, quality Omega 3 fish oil
  • Fluids – filtered water, Chinese tea, soda water, mineral water, herbal teas.

* the above can be adapted in order to follow your Blood Type foods

Source:  The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, 7th Ed, Henry Osiecki

Supporting Chemotherapy

Despite reams of clinical trials, much confusion and misconception remains regarding the role of nutritional supplements during chemotherapy.  Depending on the types of drugs being used, the type and location of cancer being treated, there are definite advantages to supporting your body during chemotherapy.  As this is such a specialised area, I urge anyone requiring information to seek the advice of a qualified natural health practitioner.