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Breast Cancer

The Breast Health Gene

Epigenetics as opposed to genetics plays a major role in the development of most diseases, including cancer.  Specifically the BRCA-1 gene has received a lot of attention in recent years with regard to the development of breast and other cancers.  This gene codes for a certain protein which is involved in DNA repair.  Reduced expression of the BRCA-1 gene may 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.  

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.   

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 phenomenally 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, yams or potato salads
  • Fruits to be limited 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 [certified organic to avoid hormones/antibiotics]
  • 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 peppers, 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, blueberries, raspberries
  • 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 with expertise in this field.